Monday, March 9, 2015

Guide Cells and Color Vision

Scientists have announced an important discovery about how structures in the retina shape color vision.

The study concentrates on the Muller cells, which occupy a narrow space in front of the eyes' photoreceptors. 

It has always been a mystery what goes on in that layer, and why the rods and cones are at the back of the vertebrate retina, and not in the front. 

The study leader is Dr. Erez Ribak from the Israel Institute of Technology. He has demonstrated that the Muller cells act as light guides, selectively sorting the light as it passes back to the photo-sensitive layer.  

The image at left is a 3D scan showing the vertical Muller cells in red standing above the rods-and-cone layer in blue.

Images courtesy BBC News
According to the BBC report, the Muller cells "funnel crucial red and green light into cone cells....Meanwhile, they leave 85% of blue light to spill over and reach nearby rod cells, which specialize in those wavelengths and give us the mostly black-and-white vision that gets us by in dim conditions."


Anonymous said...

Every day they get closer to understanding and therefore developing a fix for color blindness.
When I'm in an introspective mood I wonder how my art would have been different if I weren't colorblind. I'd like to live long enough to see (no pun intended) that "cure." In the meantime I rely on my 'bag of tricks' to get me through.

Melle Ferre said...

Lou, maybe others would like to hear about your bag of tricks. I'm discovering that a form of "color blindness" exists in many lighting conditions, and that how I paint is strongly influenced by the light I am painting in, etc...

Christian Schlierkamp said...

Hey Melle,
my friend Laura Young has published a great series about how she deals with her colorblindness in painting on her blog.

This is part 4 of her blogpost series:

Melle Ferre said...

Christian, thanks! James, is it my imagination or did a recent post involving body paint and the value of white vs sky, etc go missing from your blog? Did Google censor your blog?

James Gurney said...

Melle, is this the blog post you're looking for?:

We know Laura from the Wyoming workshop we went to. Color blindness is pretty rare among women, right?

Re: colorblindness, have you guys seen Neil Harbisson's Ted talk, "I Listen to Color"? He uses a device to translate color to sound, sort of a technological synesthesia.

Melle Ferre said...

Yes it was the 3000th post! I've been thinking about it!

Unknown said...

Heres the link to Neil:

Great post, Thanx for the journey -RQ