ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (7): 1142-1150.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.01142

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Visual Adaptation and Its Neural Mechanisms

GAO Yi1,2; BAO Min1   

  1. (1 Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China) (2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China)
  • Received:2014-12-26 Online:2015-07-15 Published:2015-07-15
  • Contact: BAO Min, E-mail:


Visual adaptation enables the visual system to continuously adjust to the environment, improving the perception of the world. It has been found that adaptation affects the processing of many fundamental visual qualities, such as luminance, contrast, motion, color, etc., as well as more complex stimuli, e.g. faces. Adaptation occurs at multiple stages along the visual processing stream, from retina to primary visual cortex and beyond (e.g. extrastriate cortex, fusiform face areas). The mechanical interpretation of visual adaptation has been developed from the earlier account of neural fatigue to the nowadays more popular normalization models. Recent adaptation studies demonstrate that visual adaptation is controlled by multiple distinct mechanisms that operate at differing timescales, which may endow the visual system with the ability to accommodate environmental changes over different timescales.

Key words: visual adaptation, neural substrates, timescale, fatigue, renormalization