Photoreceptor regulation of spatial visual behavior

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Feb 10;56(3):1842-9. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-15644.


Purpose: To better understand how photoreceptors and their circuits support luminance-dependent spatial visual behavior.

Methods: Grating thresholds for optokinetic tracking were measured under defined luminance conditions in mice with genetic alterations of photoreceptor activity.

Results: The luminance conditions that enable cone- and rod-mediated behavior, and the luminance range over which rod and cone functions overlap, were characterized. The AII amacrine pathway was found to support low-resolution and high-contrast function, with the rod-cone pathway supporting high-resolution and low-contrast function. Rods alone were also shown to be capable of driving cone-like spatial visual function, but only when cones were genetically maintained in a physiological dark state.

Conclusions: The study defined how luminance signals drive rod- and cone-mediated spatial visual behavior and revealed new and unexpected contributions for rods that depend on an interaction between cone and rod systems.

Keywords: cone; ipRGC; melanopsin; mesopic; optokinetic tracking; photopic; photoreceptors; rod; scotopic; spatial vision; visual behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / physiology*
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology*
  • Spatial Navigation / physiology*