Natural images have a characteristic spatial structure, with amplitude spectra that decrease with frequency roughly as We have examined how contrast (pattern-selective) adaptation to this structure influences the spatial sensitivity of the visual system. Contrast thresholds and suprathreshold contrast and frequency matches were measured after adaptation to random samples from an ensemble of images of outdoor scenes or of synthetic images formed by filtering the amplitude spectra of noise over a range of spectral slopes. Adaptation selectively reduced sensitivity at low-to-medium frequencies, biasing contrast sensitivity toward higher frequencies. The pattern of aftereffects was similar for different natural image ensembles but varied with large changes in the slope of the noise spectra. Our results suggest that adaptation to the spatial structure in natural scenes may exert strong and selective influences on perception that are important in characterizing the normal operating states of the visual system.
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