Why watching a sunrise takes our breath away

Saturday, November 6, 2010

LONDON - Ever wondered why watching a sunrise or a sunset is so breathtaking? Scientists have revealed in a new study how humans perceive colours, an ability that lets us see all the glorious hues of a sunrise.

Scientists have mapped the neural system involved in how cells in our eyes communicate and pass on signals to create our perception of colours.

Scientists from University of California used sophisticated recording equipment to study the retina.

The retina has a layered structure of neural tissue with input cells (photoreceptors), processing cells and output (ganglion) cells.

The way different cone cells receive signals and distinguish between wavelengths of light creates our perception of colour.

The researchers believe it could lead to new therapies for a host of sight problems.

However, there has long been a debate as to how these signals are combined by the retina and transmitted by the output cells to the brain.

Now the puzzle has been solved after researchers discovered the pattern of connectivity between the cone receptor cells and the ganglion cells with the help of 519-electrode array, a device created by scientists at Glasgow University that was used to measure cellular activity.

Research fellow Dr Keith Mathieson, said: ‘To develop new therapies for vision-related problems it is necessary to fully understand how the retina works.

“This research gives us a much greater insight into the circuitry of the retina and is an important development for neuroscience,” the Daily Mail quoted a research fellow, Keith Mathieson, as saying.

“The electrode array we developed enabled us to measure the retinal output signals of hundreds of cells simultaneously and create a map of the input-output relationship at an unprecedented resolution and scale,” he added.

The research paper, ‘Functional connectivity in the retina at the resolution of photoreceptors’ is published in the journal Nature. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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