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      Melanopsin-expressing ganglion cells in primate retina signal colour and irradiance and project to the LGN.

      Nature

      Animals, Cells, Cultured, Color Perception, physiology, Darkness, Humans, In Vitro Techniques, Light, Light Signal Transduction, radiation effects, Macaca, Retina, cytology, Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells, Retinal Ganglion Cells, Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells, Rod Opsins, genetics, metabolism, Thalamic Nuclei, Visual Pathways

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          Abstract

          Human vision starts with the activation of rod photoreceptors in dim light and short (S)-, medium (M)-, and long (L)- wavelength-sensitive cone photoreceptors in daylight. Recently a parallel, non-rod, non-cone photoreceptive pathway, arising from a population of retinal ganglion cells, was discovered in nocturnal rodents. These ganglion cells express the putative photopigment melanopsin and by signalling gross changes in light intensity serve the subconscious, 'non-image-forming' functions of circadian photoentrainment and pupil constriction. Here we show an anatomically distinct population of 'giant', melanopsin-expressing ganglion cells in the primate retina that, in addition to being intrinsically photosensitive, are strongly activated by rods and cones, and display a rare, S-Off, (L + M)-On type of colour-opponent receptive field. The intrinsic, rod and (L + M) cone-derived light responses combine in these giant cells to signal irradiance over the full dynamic range of human vision. In accordance with cone-based colour opponency, the giant cells project to the lateral geniculate nucleus, the thalamic relay to primary visual cortex. Thus, in the diurnal trichromatic primate, 'non-image-forming' and conventional 'image-forming' retinal pathways are merged, and the melanopsin-based signal might contribute to conscious visual perception.

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          Journal
          15716953
          10.1038/nature03387

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