Visual transduction in human rod photoreceptors.

Academic Article


  • 1. Photocurrents were recorded with suction electrodes from rod photoreceptors of seven humans. 2. Brief flashes of light evoked transient outward currents of up to 20 pA. With increasing light intensity the peak response amplitude increased along an exponential saturation function. A half‐saturating peak response was evoked by approximately sixty‐five photoisomerizations. 3. Responses to brief dim flashes rose to a peak in about 200 ms. The waveform was roughly like the impulse response of a series of four to five low‐pass filters. 4. The rising phases of the responses to flashes of increasing strength were found to fit with a biochemical model of phototransduction with an ‘effective delay time’ and ‘characteristic time’ of about 2 and 800 ms, respectively. 5. Spectral sensitivities were obtained over a wavelength range from 380 to 760 nm. The action spectrum, which peaked at 495 nm, followed the template described for photoreceptors in the macaque retina. Variation between rods in the position of the spectrum on the wavelength axis was small. 6. The scotopic luminosity function derived from human psychophysical experiments was found to agree well with the measured rod action spectrum after adjustments were made for lens absorption and photopigment self‐screening in the intact eye. 7. Responses to steps of light rose monotonically to a maintained level, showing little or no relaxation. Nevertheless, the relationship between light intensity and steady‐state response amplitude was shallower than that expected from simple response saturation. This is consistent with an adaptation mechanism acting on a rapid time scale. 8. Flash sensitivity fell with increasing intensities of background light according to Weber's law. Sensitivity was reduced twofold by lights evoking about 120 photoisomerizations per second. Background lights decreased the time to peak and the integration time of the flash response by up to 20%. © 1993 The Physiological Society
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kraft TW; Schneeweis DM; Schnapf JL
  • Start Page

  • 747
  • End Page

  • 765
  • Volume

  • 464
  • Issue

  • 1