3 Comparative Vision

Behavioral Neuroscience

  1. Gerald H. Jacobs PhD

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop203003

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Jacobs, G. H. 2012. Comparative Vision. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 3:3.

Author Information

  1. University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Psychology, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Almost all animals have eyes and make extensive use of visual information to support the critical choices they must make to survive and prosper. The chapter starts with a discussion of the informational possibilities offered by the photic environment and then provides a comparative examination of the basic biological mechanisms underlying animal vision. The latter includes a consideration of eye design and photosensitivity with an examination of how these processes have played out in the course of the evolution of eyes. Following a brief treatment of the role of the nervous system in the visual process, and some illustrations of how vision has been assessed in nonhuman species, three essential goals of seeing are considered: (1) detection of changes in the visual environment, (2) resolution of spatial structure, and (3) exploitation of chromatic cues. Each of these issues is illustrated by examples drawn from research done on a wide variety of different species.


  • comparative vision;
  • visual system;
  • eyes;
  • evolution;
  • retina