Fractional integral-like processing in retinal cones reduces noise and improves adaptation
In the human retina, rod and cone cells detect incoming light with a molecule called rhodopsin. After rhodopsin molecules are activated (by photon impact), these molecules activate the rest of the signalling process for a brief period of time until they are deactivated by a multistage process. First, active rhodopsin is phosphorylated multiple times. Following this, they are further inhibited by the binding of molecules called arrestins. Finally, they decay into opsins. The time required for each of these stages becomes progressively longer, and each stage further reduces the activity of rhodopsin. However, while this deactivation process itself is well researched, the roles of the above stages in signal (and image) processing are poorly understood. In this paper, we will show that the activity of rhodopsin molecules during the deactivation process can be described as the fractional integration of an incoming signal. Furthermore, we show how this affects an image; specifically, the effect of fractional integration in video and signal processing and how it reduces noise and the improves adaptability under different lighting conditions. Our experimental results provide a better understanding of vertebrate and human vision, and why the rods and cones of the retina differ from the light detectors in cameras.
Source at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0205099 .