Barry Lee's main interest is the anatomy and physiology of primate retina and the relationship of retinal neurobiology to visual perception of colour and shape. After graduate work at University College in the UK and postdoctoral work at the University of Rochester, New York, he led a laboratory in the Department of Neurobiology at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gottingen, concentrating on the primate visual system. Since 2000 he has been Professor of Biological Sciences at the College of Optometry, State University of New York.
ICVS 2013: The Primate Visual Pathway and Color Vision: A Historical View
A first suggestion as to chromatic coding in the visual pathway of primates was that the six layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) was devoted to different cone types, one per eye per cone (Le Gros Clark, 1949); recent work on koniocellular laminae has suggested this principle is not so outlandish. From a current perspective, early physiological studies were technically primitive, and led to some misleading conclusions, such as the presence of a substantial proportion of achromatic neurons in the parvocellular layers. Another misleading path was the attempt to push the visual system of the primate (and other species) into a framework set by work on the cat retina and LGN. It is now established that primates are the only mammals to have evolved full trichromatic vision and there is cumulative evidence that the primate visual pathway has been heavily modified to accommodate trichromacy, whatever the phylogenetic origins. The development of views of the primate visual pathway will be reviewed, and some frequent assumptions, deriving from those earlier studies, challenged.