Visual Neuroscience

Research Articles

Packing geometry of human cone photoreceptors: Variation with eccentricity and evidence for local anisotropy

Christine A. Curcioa1 and Kenneth R. Sloana2

a1 Departments of Ophthalmology and Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham

a2 Computer and Information Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham


Disorder in the packing geometry of the human cone mosaic is believed to help alleviate spatial aliasing effects. To characterize cone packing geometry, we gathered positions of cone inner segments at seven locations along four primary and two oblique meridians in an adult human retina. We generated statistical descriptors based on the distribution of distances and angles to Voronoi neighbors. Parameters of a compressed-jittered model were fit to the actual mosaic. Local anisotropics were investigated using correlograms. We find that (1) median distance between Voronoi neighbors increases with eccentricity, but the minimum distance is constant (6–8 μm) across peripheral retina; (2) the cone mosaic is least compressed and jittered at the edge of the foveal rod-free zone; (3) disorder in the foveal center resembles that described by Pu m et al. (1990); (4) cone spacing is 10–15% less in one direction than in the orthogonal direction; and (5) cone spacing is greater in the radial direction (along meridians) than in the tangential direction (along lines of isoeccentricity). The nearly constant minimum distance implies that high spatial frequencies may be sampled even in peripheral retina. Local anisotropy of the cone mosaic is discussed in relation to the growth of the primate retina during development and to the orientation biases of retinal ganglion cells.

(Received September 27 1991)

(Accepted December 30 1991)


Reprint requests to: Christine A. Curcio, Department of Ophthalmology EFH-300, University of Alabama at Birmingham, U.A.B. Station, Birmingham, AL 35295-0009, USA.