Fishes: Vision in Dim Light and Surrogate Senses

  • J. N. Lythgoe
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 18)


The amount of information that the eye can gain from a light source ultimately depends upon the number of photons that the light carries and in dim light it is a famine of photons rather than inadequate sensitivity of the eye that limits the ability of the eye to detect fine detail, rapid movement, colour and contrast. The absorption of a single photon by a visual pigment molecule is sufficient to isomerise the chromophoric group of the molecule and thus to set in train the events that ultimately lead to the sensation of vision (for a review see Knowles and Dartnall, 1977). In man, at least, it requires the absorption of only 5 – 10 photons in an area covered by 500 rods to initiate a sensation of vision (Hecht, Schlaer and Pirenne, 1942). Ripps and Weale (1976) consider that the absorption of 1, 2 or 3 photons is probably sufficient to impart visual information although at this low level conclusions based on such information are not reliable.


Hair Cell Lateral Line Electric Organ Mesopelagic Fish Flicker Fusion Frequency 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. N. Lythgoe
    • 1
  1. 1.MRC Vision UnitUniversity of SussexFalmer, BrightonUK

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