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J Exp Biol. 2006 Mar;209(Pt 5):781-8.

Nocturnal colour vision--not as rare as we might think.

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1
Department of Cell and Organism Biology, Vision Group, Lund University, Helgonav├Ągen 3, S-22362 Lund, Sweden. almut.kelber@cob.lu.se

Abstract

The dual retina of humans and most vertebrates consists of multiple types of cone for colour vision in bright light and one single type of rod, leaving these animals colour-blind at night. Instead of comparing the signals from different spectral types of photoreceptors, they use one highly sensitive receptor, thus improving the signal-to-noise ratio. However, nocturnal moths and geckos can discriminate colours at extremely dim light intensities when humans are colour-blind, by sacrificing spatial and temporal rather than spectral resolution. The advantages of colour vision are just as obvious at night as they are during the day. Colour vision is much more reliable than achromatic contrast, not only under changing light intensities, but also under the colour changes occurring during dusk and dawn. It can be expected that nocturnal animals other than moths and geckos make use of the highly reliable colour signals in dim light.

PMID:
16481567
DOI:
10.1242/jeb.02060
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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