Everywhere I look on the internet, I find this answer: "Cone cells perceive light." But I would like a more fundamental explanation. How do cone cells perceive and differentiate between these wavelengths? I assume that the answer to this also applies to rod cells...

  • $\begingroup$ I've always assumed different cones detect different color wave lengths because some molecules in them get excited only by those wavelengths of light, and then give off the energy in some other way. It seems to be the only explanation I can find, but of course, I know nothing about biology, just some chemistry and physics. $\endgroup$ May 18, 2017 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ Did you realy look everywhere? How about this link? britannica.com/science/photoreception/… $\endgroup$
    – nasu
    May 18, 2017 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose "everywhere" was an exaggeration... And yes, that link answers my question quite clearly. Thank you @nasu! $\endgroup$
    – Skyminer
    May 18, 2017 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photoreceptor_cell#Phototransduction $\endgroup$
    – user126422
    May 18, 2017 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


There are some chemicals in cones that beak apart when a certain type of light falls on them. This produces an electric impulse which is sent to brain. When light stops, the chemicals starts to generate again. I do not specifically know the name of that chemical right now. If large amount of light keep on falling at certain cones on our retina for some time, we can feel temperory color blindness at that spot of eye for some time (try looking at bulb for 5 mins) this is because it takes some time for generation of that chemical. By the way opsin is that chemical, it's basically a protien!


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