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Classical and melanopsin photoreception in irradiance detection: negative masking of locomotor activity by light


: Dr S. Thompson, as above.


Studies in mice lacking either classical or melanopsin photoreception have been useful in describing the photoreceptor contribution to irradiance detection in accessory visual responses. However, application of these findings to irradiance detection in intact animals is problematical because retinal degeneration or manipulation can induce secondary changes in the retina. Among responses dependent on irradiance detection, the suppression of activity by light (negative masking) has had limited study. To further understand the function of classical and melanopsin photoreceptors we studied irradiance and spectral sensitivity of masking by light, primarily in mice with intact retinae. The sensitivity of negative masking was equivalent for medium (∼500 nm) and short wavelengths (∼365 nm) in three strains of wild-type mice, identifying a marked short-wavelength-sensitive-cone input. At medium wavelengths, spectral sensitivity above 500 nm had closest fit to the nomogram for the medium-wavelength-sensitive-cone, but a combined input of cone and melanopsin photoreceptors in wild-type mice seems likely. Under white light a decompression of the irradiance range of masking in C3H rd/rd cl mice, lacking rods and cones, identified a functional deficiency presumably resulting from the absence of classical photoreceptor input. Together the evidence demonstrates a pronounced and sustained classical photoreceptor input to irradiance detection for negative masking, and suggests one role of classical photoreceptor input is to constrain dynamic range.