Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 183, Issue 3, pp 379–387

Visual acuity, contrast sensitivity and retinal magnification in a marsupial, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii )

  • J. M. Hemmi
  • R. F. Mark

DOI: 10.1007/s003590050264

Cite this article as:
Hemmi, J. & Mark, R. J Comp Physiol A (1998) 183: 379. doi:10.1007/s003590050264


The visual acuity of the tammar wallaby was estimated using a behavioural discrimination task. The wallabies were trained to discriminate a high-contrast (86%) square-wave grating from a grey field of equal luminance (1000–6000 cd m−2). Visual-evoked cortical potentials were used to measure the complete contrast sensitivity function. The stimulus was a sinusoidal phase reversal of a sinusoidally modulated grating of various spatial frequencies and contrasts with a mean luminance of 40 cd m−2. The behavioural acuity was estimated to be about 4.8 cycles/deg. The contrast sensitivity peaked at about 0.15 cycles/deg and declined towards both lower and higher spatial frequencies. The cut-off frequency of the contrast sensitivity function is slightly lower than the behaviourally measured acuity at about 2.7 cycles/deg. The retinal magnification factor was estimated anatomically from laser lesions to be about 0.16 mm/deg. Based on the known ganglion cell density and the retinal magnification factor, an anatomical upper limit to visual acuity of about 6 cycles/deg can be calculated. The differences in estimates of visual acuity between the behavioural and anatomical methods on the one side and physiology on the other side are discussed.

Key words BehaviourVEPSpatial visionMammalResolution

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Hemmi
    • 1
  • R. F. Mark
    • 1
  1. 1.Developmental Neurobiology, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, P.O. Box 475, Acton 2601, Canberra ACT, Australia e-mail: Fax: +61-2-6249-3808AU