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Brain Behav Evol. 2010;75(3):186-94. doi: 10.1159/000314275. Epub 2010 Aug 20.

Ultraviolet polarization vision and visually guided behavior in fishes.

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Department of Biology, Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ont., Canada.


Teleost fishes are capable of detecting and behaviorally responding to linearly polarized light. Fish exhibit free-swimming spatial orientation to imposed and natural polarized light fields, and the fidelity of this spatial orientation depends heavily on UV and short wavelength content of the polarization field. Fish make fine-scale behavioral discriminations between stimuli that differ in e-vector orientation, independent of brightness. The detection of polarized light by photoreceptors is based on specializations of the disk membrane in the outer segment of cones that permit preferential absorption of axial and transverse polarized light. Differential polarization detectors that have overlapping spectral sensitivity in the UV short wavelength spectrum mediate polarization sensitivity. These differential detectors are based on cone photoreceptors that share spectral sensitivity in the UV short wavelength spectrum: the alpha-band of UV-sensitive cone mechanism as the vertical detector, and the beta-band of mid- and long-wavelength sensitive cone mechanisms as the horizontal detector. Negative feedback of horizontal cells on cones govern opponent interactions between differentially sensitive polarization detectors. Polarization opponency functions to enhance e-vector contrast under conditions that vary in degree of polarization and ambient intensity. Ontogenetic changes in the cone mosaic, resulting from programmed cell death and regeneration of UV-sensitive cones, alter the retinal location of polarization sensitivity. These developmental changes greatly influence behavioral responses to polarized light.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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