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Spying Vision Cells: Eye's motion detectors are finally found

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3:30pm, October 10, 2007

The eye's retina does more than register images the way film or a digital camera detector does. To allow it to begin analyzing an image, the retina has specialized nerve cells that respond to motion or other important features in the image detected by the light-sensing rod and cone cells.

Scientists discovered the specialized cells that sense motion in the retinas of cats and other mammals more than 40 years ago, but efforts to find similar cells in primate retinas had been unsuccessful. Now, a team of scientists has found motion-sensitive nerve cells in the retinas of macaque monkeys by using a grid of 512 microscopic electrodes to measure how the nerves respond to various patterns of light.

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