Spectral Sensitivity Curves of Rods & Cones

These data are from human photoreceptors. Bowmaker & Dartnall (1980) projected a known amount of light directly through the outer segments of photoreceptors and measured how much light was absorbed by the photopigment molecules. This procedure is called microspectrophotometry.

They found four classes of photopigments as shown in the above graph. The colors of the curves do not represent the colors of the photopigments. The wavelength of maximum absorbance is indicated at the top of each curve. The 420 curve is for the short wavelength cones, the 498 curve is for the rods, and the 534 and 564 curves are for the middle and long wavelength sensitive cones respectively.

Click here and you can see the absolute spectral sensitivity of the rod and cone systems.

Dark Adaptation Explanation

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