Blue-yellow opponency in primate S cone photoreceptors

J Neurosci. 2010 Jan 13;30(2):568-72. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4738-09.2010.


The neural coding of human color vision begins in the retina. The outputs of long (L)-, middle (M)-, and short (S)-wavelength-sensitive cone photoreceptors combine antagonistically to produce "red-green" and "blue-yellow" spectrally opponent signals (Hering, 1878; Hurvich and Jameson, 1957). Spectral opponency is well established in primate retinal ganglion cells (Reid and Shapley, 1992; Dacey and Lee, 1994; Dacey et al., 1996), but the retinal circuitry creating the opponency remains uncertain. Here we find, from whole-cell recordings of photoreceptors in macaque monkey, that "blue-yellow" opponency is already present in the center-surround receptive fields of S cones. The inward current evoked by blue light derives from phototransduction within the outer segment of the S cone. The outward current evoked by yellow light is caused by feedback from horizontal cells that are driven by surrounding L and M cones. Stimulation of the surround modulates calcium conductance in the center S cone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / physiology
  • Biophysics
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Color*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Light
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / drug effects
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Potassium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Primates / anatomy & histology
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / classification
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Tetraethylammonium / pharmacology
  • Visual Fields / physiology


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Potassium Channel Blockers
  • Tetraethylammonium
  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione
  • Calcium