Luminance adaptation

Gregory William Schwartz*, Jared Levine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The rate of photons arriving at the retina varies over a billion-fold between a moonlit night and a sunny day, yet we can use vision in both conditions. The ability to adjust visual circuits to cover this enormous range of light intensities is called luminance adaptation. This chapter describes the theoretical and biological constraints on luminance adaptation and the many neural mechanisms that implement this computation at different locations in the retina. While the circuit locations differ, these mechanisms share an ability to work quickly, enabling rapid adjustments at each saccade. The last section of the chapter explores luminance adaptation at longer timescales-minutes and hours-where a host of different mechanisms come into play, from neuromodulators to receptor composition at synapses to protein localization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRetinal Computation
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780128198964
StatePublished - Aug 17 2021


  • Amacrine cells
  • Biological mechanisms
  • Bipolar cells
  • Constraints
  • Gain control
  • Light adaptation
  • Light intensity
  • Luminance adaptation
  • Neuromodulators
  • Phototransduction
  • Visual neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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