1. Experiments are described which measure the sensitivity of animals exposed to continued illumination to which they have become adapted. It is shown that the amount of outside light energy necessary to stimulate an adapted animal increases with the intensity of the adapting illumination.
2. The data are analyzed quantitatively in terms of the reversible reaction S ⇌ P + A shown previously to account for the photic sensitivity of these animals. This analysis demonstrates that, though the amount of incident energy necessary for a minimal response varies with the adapting intensity, the actual amount of photochemical decomposition required to set off the sensory mechanism is a constant quantity.
3. The ability of these animals to come into sensory equilibrium with any sustained illumination is accounted for quantitatively by the presence of a stationary state in the reversible photochemical reaction S ⇌ P + A during which the concentrations of the three components are constant.
4. It is shown that the concentrations of these substances at the stationary state are automatically controlled by the outside intensity. Therefore, given the sensory mechanism as a basis, the adaptation of the animals to light and the consequent changes in sensitivity, are determined entirely by the light to which the animals are exposed.
5. Because of the properties of the stationary state, and of the constancy of photochemical decomposition for a minimal effect, it is suggested that the sensory system is not only the traditional receptor system, but is also a protecting layer which stabilizes and buffers the relation between the nervous system and the environment.