The 'blue-on' opponent pathway in primate retina originates from a distinct bistratified ganglion cell type

Nature. 1994 Feb 24;367(6465):731-5. doi: 10.1038/367731a0.


Colour vision in humans and Old World monkeys begins with the differential activation of three types of cone photoreceptor which are maximally sensitive to short (S), medium (M) and long (L) wavelengths. Signals from the three cone types are relayed to the retinal ganglion cells via cone-specific bipolar cell types. Colour-coding ganglion cells fall into two major physiological classes: the red-green opponent cells, which receive antagonistic input from M- and L-sensitive cones, and the blue-yellow opponent cells, which receive input from S-sensitive cones, opposed by combined M- and L-cone input. The neural mechanisms producing colour opponency are not understood. It has been assumed that both kinds of opponent signals are transmitted to the lateral geniculate nucleus by one type of ganglion cell, the midget cell. We now report that a distinct non-midget ganglion cell type, the small bistratified cell, corresponds to the physiological type that receives excitatory input from S cones, the 'blue-on' cell. Our results thus demonstrate an anatomically distinct pathway that conveys S-cone signals to the brain. The morphology of the blue-on cell also suggests a novel hypothesis for the retinal circuitry underlying the blue-yellow opponent response.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Light
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission