Individually, visual neurons are each selective for several aspects of stimulation, such as stimulus location, frequency content, and speed. Collectively, the neurons implement the visual system's preferential sensitivity to some stimuli over others, manifested in behavioral sensitivity functions. We ask how the individual neurons are coordinated to optimize visual sensitivity. We model synaptic plasticity in a generic neural circuit and find that stochastic changes in strengths of synaptic connections entail fluctuations in parameters of neural receptive fields. The fluctuations correlate with uncertainty of sensory measurement in individual neurons: The higher the uncertainty the larger the amplitude of fluctuation. We show that this simple relationship is sufficient for the stochastic fluctuations to steer sensitivities of neurons toward a characteristic distribution, from which follows a sensitivity function observed in human psychophysics and which is predicted by a theory of optimal allocation of receptive fields. The optimal allocation arises in our simulations without supervision or feedback about system performance and independently of coupling between neurons, making the system highly adaptive and sensitive to prevailing stimulation.