In the natural environment, animals are constantly exposed to a continuous stream of dynamic sensory stimulation. The response properties of neurons dynamically adjust to the prevailing properties of sensory stimulation, a process known as ‘neuronal adaptation’. This continuous recalibration and adjustment of neuronal responses in turn affect perception, a phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘perceptual adaptation’.
Adaptation is a common feature across all sensory modalities and can occur at many different stages of processing. The perceptual consequences of adaptation are often studied in the form of after-effects. For example, prolonged viewing of a moving stimulus will bias observers to report that a subsequent static object is moving in the opposite direction. Conversely, after some time we tend to not notice ongoing sensory stimulation such as the hum of an air conditioner or the scratching of a shirt. The neuronal consequences typically involve reduced responsiveness to frequent features of prolonged stimulation. However, retuning of neuronal input-output functions in the form of shifts or rescaling according to changes in the diet of stimulation has also been observed. Neuronal adaptation has been suggested to enhance information processing efficiency, improve acuity and reduce metabolic cost. Are these roles mutually exclusive, or might they reflect similar underlying goals? What is left to learn about the mechanisms underlying this universal phenomenon, and what can studies of adaptation more generally tell us about how the brain functions?
The present Research Topic aims to provide a multidisciplinary survey of the most recent and cutting-edge research on adaptation to understand better how the brain adaptively encodes and makes sense of its surrounding environment, and to deepen our insight into other aspects of information processing in the brain. This requires a comprehensive and coordinated drive from multiple disciplines including but not limited to cellular, systems, computational, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. Here, we welcome submissions in the form of Original Research Articles, Review Articles, Method Articles, Mini-Review Articles, General Commentaries, Opinion and Perspectives.
The goal of this Research Topic is to address fundamental questions regarding phenomenology as well as implications of adaptation at the cellular, circuit and perceptual level: