Edge Enhancement and Lateral Inhibition

I chose to research the edge enhancement phenomenon. This is where colors are perceived differently based on there relativity to other colors that are lighter or darker. The more light that hits the photoreceptors, the stronger the stimulus. This stimulus is perceived by the brain. Since photoreceptors inhibit the stimulation of their neighboring photoreceptors, the stronger the stimulus in one photoreceptor, the more it inhibits the neighboring photoreceptor. This is called lateral inhibition. If all neighboring cells receive the same stimulus, there will be equal perception of the signal within the brain.
Edge enhancement occurs when receptors that receive stronger stimuli inhibit their neighbors more strongly. It also occurs when receptors that receive weaker stimuli do not inhibit their neighbors as strongly. When a neuron is inhibited more than its neighbors, it results in the perception of a darker color. When a neuron is inhibited less, it results in the perception of a lighter color. This gives an enhanced contrast between light and dark colors/images side-by-side.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 5.04.53 PM

In this photo, lateral inhibition is occurring in the retina. The white areas next to each other cause inhibition of photoreceptors in between. This gives the illusion of slightly darker squares in the middle. These are the grey spots in each corner.

One response to “Edge Enhancement and Lateral Inhibition”

  1. Brianna Margaret Cathey says:

    Great explanation Hope! What a cool phenomenon. If instead of using black and white and you use another set of very different colors, like red and yellow, would the effect be weaker?

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