Surprise! Most ‘Color Vision’ Cells See Only Black or White

Color vision may work differently than what scientists had thought. The eyes work by collecting different information using different cells. Some of the cells, cones, are used to read color. Cones are in the back of the eye and part of the retina. Cones detect colored light, red, green or blue. One scientist, Ramkumar Sabesan, discovered unexpectedly that some cones read only white light. Sabesan and his team at the University of California, Berkeley, used a strong microscope to study the eyes of two people. The team mapped where the red, green and blue cones are for 1,000 cone cells. In their test, they were able to find that most of the color cones actually did not signal color, and instead signaled white. They discovered that similar to how we color a coloring book, the white cones create the edges of the image and the colored cones fill in the lines with color. The researchers used methods astronomers use for space. The research was difficult because they studied the movement of the eye and individually studied 273 cone cells which took two years! Their research found that the retina is doing more work than originally believed. Instead of the brain putting together the different colors, the retina is pushing the information of black, white, and color to the brain. The researchers continue to work on how the cone cells work to send the type of color. This will help color blind people in finding the right cone cells to improve their color vision.

This is an important discovery for scientists because it is another way for scientists to help people’s health and improve people’s lives. The discovery is new and the article came out on October 19, 2016. This changes the way we thought the brain worked to identify colors. We now know that the retina actually does a lot of the coloring work. I chose this article because the topic of color vision intrigues me because I love art and appreciate all the beautiful colors. Understanding color vision is important to the world because some people are living without being able to see colors. If we can find out how the retina and the brain can work together to determine color, we can help those who are colorblind to see colors.

by Isabella 4L

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