Visual mode switching: Improved general compensation for environmental color changes requires only one exposure per day

Yanjun Li, Katherine E Tregillus, Stephen A. Engel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


When the visual environment changes, vision adapts in order to maintain accurate perception. For repeatedly encountered environmental changes, the visual system may learn to adjust immediately, a process called "visual mode switching." For example, following experience with red glasses, participants report that the glasses' redness fades instantly when they put the glasses on. Here we tested (1) whether once-daily experience suffices for learning to switch visual modes and (2) whether effects of mode switching apply to most stimuli affected by the environmental change. In Experiment 1, 12 participants wore bright red glasses for a single 5-hr period each day for 5 days, and we tested for changes in the perception of unique yellow, which contains neither red nor green. In Experiment 2, we tested how mode switching affects larger parts of the color space. Thirteen participants donned and removed the glasses multiple times a day for 5 days, and we used a dissimilarity rating task to measure and track perception of many different colors. Across days, immediately upon donning the glasses, the world appeared less and less reddish (Experiment 1), and colors across the whole color space appeared more and more normal (Experiment 2). These results indicate that mode switching can be acquired from a once-daily experience, and it applies to most stimuli in a given environment. These findings may help to predict when and how mode switching occurs outside the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:

Publisher Copyright:
© This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License


  • Color adaptation
  • Visual mode switching
  • Visual plasticity
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Humans
  • Eyeglasses

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Visual mode switching: Improved general compensation for environmental color changes requires only one exposure per day'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this