Visual Neuroscience

Research Articles

Spectral sensitivity of macaque monkeys measured with ERG flicker photometry

Gerald H. Jacobsa1 and Jess F. Deegan IIa2

a1 Neuroscience Research Institute and Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara

a2 Department of Psychology, California State University, Bakersfield


Macaque monkeys are widely used as a model species for investigations of the biology of human vision. Previous measurements suggest that the cone-based spectral sensitivity of these two primates is greatly similar, but perhaps not identical. We measured the photopic spectral sensitivity of 42 male macaque monkeys from two species (Macaca mulatto, M. fascicularis) using an objective index, electroretinogram flicker photometry. The variations among individuals and between the two species were very small and there was no evidence for any significant cone pigment polymorphism in this sample. There are small but systematic differences in spectral sensitivity between macaque monkeys and equivalently tested human subjects–the monkeys were slightly more sensitive to short wavelengths (<520 nm) and slightly less sensitive to wavelengths longer than this value. The results obtained from the curve fitting of standard photopigment absorption spectra to the spectral-sensitivity functions suggest that the difference between human and macaque monkey spectral sensitivity principally reflects differences in the relative proportions of the long- and middle-wavelength cones in the retinas of the two species.

(Received November 04 1996)

(Accepted January 31 1997)


Reprint requests to: Gerald H. Jacobs, Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.