The Visual System in Vertebrates

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The vertebrate eye has been, and continues to be, an object of interest and of inquiry for biologists, physicists, chemists, psychologists, and others. Quite apart from its important role in the development of ophthalmology and related medical disciplines, the vertebrate eye is an exemplar of the ingenuity of living systems in adapting to the diverse and changing environments in which vertebrates have evolved. The wonder is not so much that the visual system, like other body systems, has been able to adapt in this way, but rather that these adaptations have taken such a variety of forms. In a previous volume in this series (VII/I) Eakin expressed admiration for the diversity of invertebrate photoreceptors. A comparable situation exists for the vertebrate eye as a whole and one object of this volume is to present to the reader the nature of this diversity. One result of this diversification of ocular structures and properties is that the experimental biologist has available a number of systems for study that are unique or especially favorable for the investigation of particular questions in visual science or neurobiology. This volume includes some examples of progress made by the use of such specially selected vertebrate systems. It is our hope that this comparative approach will continue to reveal new and useful preparations for the examination of important questions.