The perception of, and neural responses to, sensory stimuli in the present are influenced by what has been observed in the past-a phenomenon known as adaptation. We focus on adaptation in visual cortical neurons as a paradigmatic example. We review recent work that represents two shifts in the way we study adaptation, namely (i) going beyond single neurons to study adaptation in populations of neurons and (ii) going beyond simple stimuli to study adaptation to natural stimuli. We suggest that efforts in these two directions, through a closer integration of experimental and modeling approaches, will enable a more complete understanding of cortical processing in natural environments.
Keywords: natural scenes; population coding; visual adaptation; visual cortical neurons.