The mammalian retina is fundamentally dichromatic, with trichromacy only recently emerging in some primates. In dichromats, an array of short wavelength-sensitive (S, blue) and middle wavelength-sensitive (M, green) cones is sampled by approximately ten bipolar cell types, and the sampling pattern determines how retinal ganglion cells and ultimately higher visual centers encode color and luminance. By recording from cone-bipolar cell pairs in the retina of the ground squirrel, we show that the bipolar cell types sample cone signals in three ways: one type receives input exclusively from S-cones, two types receive mixed S/M-cone input and the remaining types receive an almost pure M-cone signal. Bipolar cells that carry S- or M-cone signals can have a role in color discrimination and may contact color-opponent ganglion cells. Bipolar cells that sum signals from S- and M-cones may signal to ganglion cells that encode luminance.
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