Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo

Lateral Inhibition

  • Jörg-Peter EwertEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_200150

Lateral inhibition increases the sharpness of contrast in sensory responses, for exmaple, to a contrast border in vision. It refers to a sensory neuronal network arranged in at least two layers of arrays of neurons connected by excitatory and inhibitory inputs. Suppose an array of excitatory visual input to layer-1 in the manner of a contrast border:

Excitation in layer-1: 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

The neurons of layer-1 will now excite via their axons the corresponding neurons of the subsequent layer-2. Via axonal branches of those axons, the laterally adjacent neurons in layer-2 are inhibited by a percentage of the excitation. Upon passing lateral inhibition (say 25% of excitation):

Excitation in layer-2: 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 1 2 2 2 2 2 2

Thus, lateral inhibition attenuates the overall excitatory input and sharpens the perceived contrast border.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Natural SciencesUniversity of KasselSchauenburgGermany