Swedish physiologist who with US physiologists Haldine Hartline and George Wald was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1967 for his analysis of the mechanisms that take place in the eye when it is exposed to light. He was awarded his share of the prize for his study on how the eye can distinguish different colours.
Granit's studies of the retina in the eye using electrophysiological methods led him to the conclusion that it was composed of distinct elements, or cones. Further investigations showed that there were three different types of cone, each sensitive to a characteristic part of the light spectrum. His discovery implied that the perception of colour, which is transmitted from the optic nerve to the brain, was determined by contributions from the three cone types. He also proved that light could inhibit impulses travelling along the optic nerve. His research and publications have become a standard area of study for students of the physiology of the eye.
Granit was born in Helsinki, Finland. He took part in Finland's War of Liberation in 1918 and was decorated with the Cross of Freedom fourth class with sword. After training in experimental psychology and becoming Mag Phil in 1923, Granit studied at the University of Helsinki for his MD degree which he received in 1927. He joined the medical school of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, in 1940 and was appointed chair of the department of neurophysiology at the institute in 1946. Granit was president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from 1963 until 1965.