The discovery of the ability of rod photoreceptors to signal single photons

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11 Scopus citations


Vertebrate rod photoreceptors evolved the astonishing ability to respond reliably to single photons. In parallel, the proximate neurons of the visual system evolved the ability to reliably encode information from a few single-photon responses (SPRs) as arising from the presence of an object of interest in the visual environment. These amazing capabilities were first inferred from measurements of human visual threshold by Hecht et al. (1942), whose paper has since been cited over 1,000 times. Subsequent research, in part inspired by Hecht et al.'s discovery, has directly measured rod SPRs, characterized the molecular mechanism responsible for their generation, and uncovered much about the specializations in the retina that enable the reliable transmission of SPRs in the teeth of intrinsic neuronal noise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-388
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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