Primate color vision: a comparative perspective

Vis Neurosci. Sep-Dec 2008;25(5-6):619-33. doi: 10.1017/S0952523808080760.


Thirty years ago virtually everything known about primate color vision derived from psychophysical studies of normal and color-defective humans and from physiological investigations of the visual system of the macaque monkey, the most popular of human surrogates for this purpose. The years since have witnessed much progress toward the goal of understanding this remarkable feature of primate vision. Among many advances, investigations focused on naturally occurring variations in color vision in a wide range of nonhuman primate species have proven to be particularly valuable. Results from such studies have been central to our expanding understanding of the interrelationships between opsin genes, cone photopigments, neural organization, and color vision. This work is also yielding valuable insights into the evolution of color vision.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Color Vision / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Opsins / chemistry
  • Opsins / genetics
  • Primates / physiology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / chemistry
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Pigments / physiology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Vertebrates / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • X Chromosome / genetics


  • Opsins
  • Retinal Pigments