Contrast adaptation and sensitization

Gregory William Schwartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Not only do natural scenes span an enormous range of luminance, but they can also vary in contrast 10,000-fold from one region to another within the same scene. Yet, as we saccade to these different contrast regions, we can discern details immediately, with no apparent processing delay. Contrast adaptation allows visual neurons to rapidly adjust their dynamic range to match that of the visual input, and it begins within the retina. This chapter covers the known mechanisms of contrast adaptation in the vertebrate retina and a related, more recently discovered computation called contrast sensitization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRetinal Computation
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780128198964
StatePublished - Aug 17 2021


  • Contrast adaptation
  • Contrast sensitization
  • Dynamic range
  • Gain control
  • Lighting conditions
  • Natural scenes
  • Visual neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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