The light sensitivity of the human visual system depends on the direction of view

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2002 Apr;188(3):235-7. doi: 10.1007/s00359-002-0300-3. Epub 2002 Mar 21.


The near-stable North-South orientation of the natural geomagnetic field provides an ideal basis for navigation. Sailors have used it since ancient times, animals for much longer. Various mechanisms have developed for this purpose. Experiments have pointed to a connection between orientation in the geomagnetic field and light perception. Such observations are supported by theoretical considerations. The underlying interaction should also modulate the light sensitivity of the visual system. Recently we demonstrated the effect of an oscillating field. Here we report the existence of a weak influence of the static field on visual sensitivity in man. By comparison with control experiments, if the directions of view line and field vector coincide the perception threshold of a light stimulus is slightly but significantly increased. This significance is lost if the view line deviates by 10 degrees from the field direction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Magnetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Visual Perception / physiology*