Human visual perception and many visual system neurons adapt to the luminance and contrast of the stimulus. Here we describe a form of contrast adaptation that occurs in the retina. This adaptation had a local scale smaller than the dendritic or receptive fields of single ganglion cells and was insensitive to pharmacological manipulation of amacrine cell function. These results implicate the bipolar cell pathway as a site of contrast adaptation. The time required for contrast adaptation varied with stimulus size, ranging from approximately 100 ms for the smallest stimuli, to seconds for stimuli the size of the receptive field. The differing scales and time courses of these effects suggest that multiple types of contrast adaptation are used in viewing natural scenes.
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