Probing Computation in the Primate Visual System at Single-Cone Resolution

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2019 Jul 8;42:169-186. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-070918-050233. Epub 2019 Mar 11.


Daylight vision begins when light activates cone photoreceptors in the retina, creating spatial patterns of neural activity. These cone signals are then combined and processed in downstream neural circuits, ultimately producing visual perception. Recent technical advances have made it possible to deliver visual stimuli to the retina that probe this processing by the visual system at its elementary resolution of individual cones. Physiological recordings from nonhuman primate retinas reveal the spatial organization of cone signals in retinal ganglion cells, including how signals from cones of different types are combined to support both spatial and color vision. Psychophysical experiments with human subjects characterize the visual sensations evoked by stimulating a single cone, including the perception of color. Future combined physiological and psychophysical experiments focusing on probing the elementary visual inputs are likely to clarify how neural processing generates our perception of the visual world.

Keywords: adaptive optics; color vision; photoreceptor; receptive field; retina; single cone.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Color Vision / physiology
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Primates / physiology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology