In leech visual cells the presumed light-absorbing structures are microvilli arising from the membrane of what would seem to be a large intracellular vacuole. This vacuole, however, is an extracellular compartment, since it communicates with the intercellular spaces through narrow channels. Therefore, the membrane of the microvilli is—as in other invertebrate visual cells—a part of the cell membrane. Visual responses recorded with an electrode within the vacuole were compared with the intracellular recordings. Following illumination the vacuole becomes negative with respect to the outside fluid, while the cells are depolarized. This finding indicates that inward current penetrates the cell through the microvillar membrane. It is concluded, therefore, that the electrical response (receptor potential) originates as a result of changes in the properties of the light-absorbing membrane.

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