Genetic hardwiring during brain development provides computational architectures for innate neuronal processing. Thus, the paradigmatic chick retinotectal projection, due to its neighborhood preserving, topographic organization, establishes millions of parallel channels for incremental visual field analysis. Retinal axons receive targeting information from quantitative guidance cue gradients. Surprisingly, novel adaptation assays demonstrate that retinal growth cones robustly adapt towards ephrin-A/EphA forward and reverse signals, which provide the major mapping cues. Computational modeling suggests that topographic accuracy and adaptability, though seemingly incompatible, could be reconciled by a novel mechanism of coupled adaptation of signaling channels. Experimentally, we find such ‘co-adaptation’ in retinal growth cones specifically for ephrin-A/EphA signaling. Co-adaptation involves trafficking of unliganded sensors between the surface membrane and recycling endosomes, and is presumably triggered by changes in the lipid composition of membrane microdomains. We propose that co-adaptative desensitization eventually relies on guidance sensor translocation into cis-signaling endosomes to outbalance repulsive trans-signaling.