How the retina works

Michael Olea oleaj at
Fri Jul 2 23:20:28 EST 2004

in article 2klmftF3u69qU1 at, Wil Hadden at ask at wrote on
7/2/04 11:05 AM:

> "r norman" <rsn_ at> wrote in message
> news:htt8e0p87dmjpeccbcjaa90i98arta3dih at
>> On Thu, 1 Jul 2004 20:17:33 +0100, "Wil Hadden" <ask at> wrote:
>> That seems to be different from  what you described earlier.
>> Do you want to model the real retina or the "Silicon retina"?  There
>> is a big difference.  To model the real retina, you must know really
>> how the cells work.  To model the silicon retina, all you have to know
>> is how that works.  And there, I can't help you.
> You are correct, I am really after something more aligned to the silicon
> retina, but I
> also want to understand it's design in relation to a real retina and to try to
> understand
> the myriad of amacrine cells. To be honest though my research will not be
> going in to PhD
> detail!
> I have to say though I went though the site you suggested and it is extremely
> good, there
> is a pdf download that gives a fantastic overview of the retina and is exactly
> the sort of
> thing I was after.

So you probably already got:

Helga Kolb's overview "How the Retina Works"
available at:

A nice website on the evolution of the retina is:

As for the "upside down design", Stephen Palmer writes in the book "Vision
Science: Photons to Phenomenology":

The reason for this unusual arrangement is probably that the enzymes that
are needed for pigment regeneration are in the pigment epithelium, which is
opaque. Because the receptor disks must be adjacent to this vital
biochemical resource, they must also be at the back of the retina.

But then there is the head-foot molluscs retinal organization...(shrug).

> I also have a collection of papers about neurons on order it includes "The
> Functional
> Architecture of the Retina" in the Dec. 1986 Scientific American, though I
> just found out
> I think you can get those old papers from the sciam site, anyway definitely
> worth a read.
> All in all thanks for your responses, they have definitely helped me refine
> what I am
> looking for.
> Wil
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