Discrete waves, recorded from the ventral nerve photoreceptor, occur in the light and in the dark. Spontaneous waves, on the average, are smaller than light-evoked waves. This suggests that not all spontaneous waves can arise from spontaneous changes in the visual pigment molecule identical to changes induced by photon absorption. Spontaneous and light-evoked waves are statistically independent of each other. This is shown by determination of frequency of response as a function of pulse energy for short pulses and determination of the distribution of intervals between waves evoked by steady lights. The available data can be explained by two models. In the first each photon produces a time-dependent excitation that goes to zero the instant the wave occurs so that the number of effective absorptions from a short light pulse equals the number of waves produced by the light pulse. In the second the excitation produced by photon absorption is unaffected by the occurrence of the waves so that the number of waves produced from a short light pulse may be different from the number of effective absorptions. Present results do not allow a choice between the two models.

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