Form vision from melanopsin in humans

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Detection and discrimination of spatial patterns is thought to originate with photoreception by rods and cones. Here, we investigated whether the inner-retinal photoreceptor melanopsin could represent a third origin for form vision. We developed a 4-primary visual display capable of presenting patterns differing in contrast for melanopsin vs cones, and generated spectrally distinct stimuli that were indistinguishable for cones (metamers) but presented contrast for melanopsin. Healthy observers could detect sinusoidal gratings formed by these metamers when presented in the peripheral retina at low spatial (≤0.8cpd) and temporal (≤0.45Hz) frequencies, and Michelson contrasts ≥14% for melanopsin. Metameric gratings became invisible at lower light levels (<1013 melanopsin photons cm-2sr-1s-1) when rods are more active. The addition of metameric increases in melanopsin contrast altered appearance of greyscale representations of coarse gratings and a range of everyday images. These data identify melanopsin as a new potential origin for aspects of spatial vision in humans.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2019

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