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Vis Neurosci. 2003 Jan-Feb;20(1):11-7.

Spectral properties and retinal distribution of ferret cones.

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  • 1Neuroscience Research Institute and Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara 93106, USA.


The spectral mechanisms of the ferret (Mustela putorious furo) were studied with electroretinogram (ERG) flicker photometry. Variations in adaptation state and flicker rate were used to define corneally based spectral sensitivities for the three classes of receptor present in the retina of this mustelid-rods (lambdamax = 505 nm), S cones (430 nm), and L cones (558 nm). The retinal distributions of the two classes of cone were determined using opsin antibody labeling. Ferret retinas contain a total of about 1.3 million cones with L cones outnumbering S cones in a ratio of approximately 14:1. ERGs were also recorded using 18.75-Hz flickering stimuli that were designed to isolate signals from individual cone classes. The contrast/response functions for signals originating from both S and L cones were linear over low-to-moderate levels of contrast, but with greatly different slopes for the two cone types. The L:S contrast gain ratio derived from a comparison of these slopes, as well as inferences drawn from another experiment in which responses to various combinations of L- and S-cone activation were analyzed, suggest that contributions of these two cone types to the flicker ERG have a relative weighting of about 4:1 to 5:1 (L/S).

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