February 27, 2021

Conserved visual capacity of rats under red light

Recent studies examine the behavioral capacities of rats and mice with and without visual input, and the neuronal mechanisms underlying such capacities. These animals are assumed to be functionally blind under red light, perhaps originating in the fact that they are dichromats who possess ultraviolet and green but not red cones. But the inability to see red as a color does not necessarily rule out form vision based on red light absorption through their rod-dominated retina. We measured Long-Evans rats’ capacity for visual form discrimination under red light of various wavelength bands. Upon viewing a black and white grating, they had to distinguish between two categories of orientation, horizontal and vertical. Psychometric curves plotting judged orientation versus angle demonstrate the conserved visual capacity of rats under red light. Investigations aiming to explore rodent physiological and behavioral functions in the absence of visual input should not assume red-light blindness.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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