When the environment changes, vision adapts to maintain accurate perception. For repeatedly encountered environments, learning to switch immediately to prior adaptive states would be beneficial, but past work remains inconclusive. We tested if the visual system can learn such visual mode switching for a strongly tinted environment, where adaptation causes the dominant hue to fade over time. Eleven observers wore red glasses for five one-hour periods per day, for five days. Color adaptation was measured by asking observers to identify unique yellow, appearing neither reddish nor greenish. As expected, the world appeared less and less reddish during the one-hour periods of glasses wear. Critically, across days the world also appeared significantly less reddish immediately after donning the glasses. This indicates that the visual system learned to shift rapidly to a partially adapted state, switching modes to stabilize color vision. Mode switching likely provides a general strategy to optimize perceptual processes.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience