A Caltech Library Service

Spectral and Polarization Sensitivity of the Dipteran Visual System

McCann, Gilbert D. and Arnett, David W. (1972) Spectral and Polarization Sensitivity of the Dipteran Visual System. Journal of General Physiology, 59 (5). pp. 534-558. ISSN 0022-1295. PMCID PMC2203192. doi:10.1085/jgp.59.5.534.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Spectral and polarization sensitivity measurements were made at several levels (retina, first and third optic ganglion, cervical connective, behavior) of the dipteran visual nervous system. At all levels, it was possible to reveal contributions from the retinular cell subsystem cells 1 to 6 or the retinular cell subsystem cells 7 and 8 or both. Only retinular cells 1 to 6 were directly studied, and all possessed the same spectral sensitivity characterized by two approximately equal sensitivity peaks at 350 and 480 nm. All units of both the sustaining and on-off variety in the first optic ganglion exhibited the same spectral sensitivity as that of retinular cells 1 to 6. It was possible to demonstrate for motion detection and optomotor responses two different spectral sensitivities depending upon the spatial wavelength of the stimulus. For long spatial wavelengths, the spectral sensitivity agreed with retinular cells 1 to 6; however, the spectral sensitivity at short spatial wavelengths was characterized by a single peak at 465 nm reflecting contributions from the (7, 8) subsystem. Although the two subsystems exhibited different spectral sensitivities, the difference was small and no indication of color discrimination mechanisms was observed. Although all retinular cells 1 to 6 exhibited a preferred polarization plane, sustaining and on-off units did not. Likewise, motion detection and optomotor responses were insensitive to the polarization plane for long spatial wavelength stimuli; however, sensitivity to select polarization planes was observed for short spatial wavelengths.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle CentralArticle
Additional Information:© 1972 The Rockefeller University Press. Submitted: 20 September 1971. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, United States Public Health Service Grant NS 03627 and the National Science Foundation Grant GM 15537.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIHNS 03627
NSFGM 15537
Issue or Number:5
PubMed Central ID:PMC2203192
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120813-140916876
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:33134
Deposited On:14 Aug 2012 14:54
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 21:32

Repository Staff Only: item control page