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A Life More Colorful

Article #143 • Written by Cynthia Wood

Human beings normally see in color. We are natural trichromats-- we have three different color receptors that permit us to see a range of colors far broader than many other mammals. Even most other primates (with the exception of old-world monkeys) have only two kinds of color receptors. We are not the top of the color vision pile though. Jumping spiders are natural tetrachromats, with four kinds of receptors, and while there are no known mammalian tetrachromats, there are believed to be tetrachromats among birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.

That mammalian exclusion may be about to change. Since 1993 scientists in Oxford and Cambridge have been looking for a few women compared to whom, we may all be color-blind. These women would be the first known mammalian tetrachromats. In an odd twist of fate, the same genetic glitch that creates color-blind males may create females with better-than-usual color vision.

The normal human retina's color receptors are tuned to green, blue, and red. Working together, the three give us our colorful view of the world. When one or more of those color receptors is missing the result is color-blindness. The genes for our red and green color receptors are located on the X-chromosome, giving women a redundant set of receptor genes. This is why men are far more prone to color-blindness than women. In order to be functionally color-blind a woman not only has to be missing a receptor gene on both X-chromosomes, it must be the same gene on each one. The chances of this happening are so slim that only 0.4% of the US female population is affected. By contrast male color-blindness is far more prevalent with 8% of the US male population affected - 95% of them with red or green receptor problems. Color-blindness makes it difficult or impossible to distinguish some colors, depending on which receptor is affected. The term color-blindness itself is somewhat of a misnomer, since color perception is altered, not eliminated. True color-blindness, wherein a person can distinguish no color at all, requires a malfunction of all three kinds of color receptors, and affects only 0.003% of the population regardless of gender.

The original problem that leads to color-blindness occurs in the process of meiosis, the creation of the human ovum or sperm – in this case the ovum. During meiosis each pair of chromosomes is split in half in preparation for receiving a new matching half when the egg is fertilized. The splitting process is not perfectly neat, however. Genes can blend and cross, which is normal, and sometimes they do it lopsidedly, which is not. When lopsided splitting occurs the genes' coding for the color-receptors can be affected. The genes for the red and green receptors lie right next to each other, and therefore are particularly prone to mismatching. If a mistake is made in meiosis, the X-chromosome in the egg may be missing the genes for either the red or green receptors. More rarely the genes may crisscross and the resultant chromosome will have two genes for a single receptor, be it red or green.

It’s this particular variant that makes the tetrachromat possible, for not all red receptors (or all green receptors) are identical. Normal genetic variation through the generations has meant that some are sensitive to slightly different wavelengths. In most instances a person would have only one red and one green receptor gene, so the variations would not make much difference – but what happens when a chromosome with two red receptor genes ends up with two different kinds?

This is where the tetrachromat becomes possible. A man with two red receptor genes, one normal, one modified, might have broader color vision than a normal color-blind man, but he would remain color-blind. A woman, on the other hand, with her redundant set of receptor genes, would have genes coding for not three kinds of receptors, but four.

The genetics are plain, but two questions remained. Would the new receptor be prevalent enough to alter the subjects’ vision? And would the brain be able to accommodate the additional input to produce truly superior color vision?

Dr. Gabriele Jordan of Cambridge University may have answered that one. She tested the color perception of fourteen women who each had at least one son with the right kind of color-blindness. She set up a test where the subjects had to manipulate and blend two wavelengths of colored light to produce any hue they liked. They then had to match their own results a second time. With normal color vision, several different combinations would match any given hue, with a tetrachromat the possible combinations to produce a visible match would be much reduced. Dr. Jordan reported that two of the fourteen women showed exactly the results she would have expected from a tetrachromat. At least one of the two women reports having a different sense of color from the people around her, with both better color matching and better color memory. While not completely conclusive, this initial study has so far provided our best candidates for natural human tetrachromats.

But even if we find our tetrachromats, they may not all be created equal. If the modified color receptor is sensitive to wavelengths very close to a normal receptor, then the tetrachromat would merely have slightly better color-vision. The further apart the wavelength sensitivities of the receptors, the more the tetrachromat’s vision would differ from the norm. So in all probability, even among tetrachromats few have a dramatically better color sense, but for that rare exception the world may truly be a more colorful place.

Article written by Cynthia Wood, published on 21 March 2006. Cynthia is a contributing editor for DamnInteresting.com.

Article design by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
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62 Comments
electricmonk500
Posted 21 March 2006 at 03:21 pm

Well I know I'm colorblind, and the only number I can make out in the first picture is the 18, which I believe anyone who didn't have "true color-blindness," malfunctions in all three color receptors, would be able to see.

What does this mean?


Daniel Fluck
Posted 21 March 2006 at 03:28 pm

I am colorblind and can't possibly imagine to see even more colors than all the people who already see more colors than me. Maybe for one day being a tetrachromat would be overwhelming I suppose.

A man said to me once, there are more and more people suffering from color blindness because we don't care much about colors anymore. Of course we have all those rainbow colors, but can we distinguish 40 different greens as people living in the jungle can? We can not anymore because we care more about structures, edges and curves, glittering and twinkling. And now the tetrachromat women show us the opposite. So where are we heading to?


another viewpoint
Posted 21 March 2006 at 03:39 pm

I too, have problems reading the numbers in the squares in the upper right corner of this article. I can tell people what colors are in the square...and I can tell you what colors the numbers are in the square...but I can't read some of the numbers. I was told this is NOT color blindness...rather, this is a matter of color coordination. So much for being (in this day and age) ..."fashionably challenged!".


white_matter
Posted 21 March 2006 at 04:03 pm

OK so we've gone from color vision to HDcolor vision...big deal.

When do we get x-ray vision that's what I want to know.


ForestGrump
Posted 21 March 2006 at 04:55 pm

Funny color blindness story.

My old roomate has a few family members who are color blind. One time he got a "silver" shirt as a gift...in reality it was pink.

Grump


Mark
Posted 21 March 2006 at 05:45 pm

Cool, I wonder if these tetrachromats can see more colours than us (like octiron, obligatory Terry Pratchett reference!).


dwhitter
Posted 21 March 2006 at 06:41 pm

I believe they are 58, 18, maybe the letter E and 17


Arcangel
Posted 21 March 2006 at 07:10 pm

dwhitter said: "I believe they are 58, 18, maybe the letter E and 17"

You are correct! Now try the 4 images in the Wikipedia link. Since I was correct does that mean my eyes are more feminine than they should be???


Oax
Posted 21 March 2006 at 07:40 pm

If I got a pink shirt I would also insist it was silver...


paintist
Posted 21 March 2006 at 08:02 pm

Daniel Fluck said: A man said to me once, there are more and more people suffering from color blindness because we don't care much about colors anymore. Of course we have all those rainbow colors, but can we distinguish 40 different greens as people living in the jungle can? We can not anymore because we care more about structures, edges and curves, glittering and twinkling. And now the tetrachromat women show us the opposite. So where are we heading to?"

Well I hope after reading the article you can correct him by saying color blindness is about physiology and genetics and has little or nothing to do with people's personal cares. However, he does have a point about the importance of color within a culture. Advertising executives praise highly saturated and bright colors of clearly defined hues. We see bright vibrant blues on billboards more often than we do greyish subdued periwinkles or tannish browns. It's as if color consultants working with ad executives just gave them a box of Crayolas to give to their designers. But this has it's advantages and disadvantages. We, since we are subjected to this wide color spectrum of bright colors in advertising, can distinguish bright colors from subdued colors probably better than "the people living in the jungle." Are "people living in the jungle" surrounded by a wide spectrum of greens going to be able to recognize a wide spectrum of purples and blues and reds like we are? Food for thought.

The moment I read the first paragraph of this article I immediately thought "Damn! More info about how minimal human sensory perception is." I'd wager that people still believe that "reality" is all that can be sensed a la "I'll believe it when I see/hear/feel it." But articles such as these suggest that there is a very large reality way beyond human sensory perception. There are sounds being made which we cannot hear, there are colors which we cannot see, there are textures so small we cannot feel their differences and so on... Damn interesting shiznat.


nocode
Posted 21 March 2006 at 08:32 pm

dwhitter said: "I believe they are 58, 18, maybe the letter E and 17"

letter E? i thought it's a letter L ( the pink color make the L letter, and the yellow color add the line on the L letter so it's could be seen as E letter if you ignore the color difference).

is anyone here, who had same opinion as me?


jsgasue
Posted 21 March 2006 at 08:33 pm

Scientists believe that some birds, fish, and turtles can see up to 5 colors. However the mantis shrimp trumps us all, it is believed that the mantis shrimp can see up to 10 unique colors plus another 4 in the ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum

http://www.umbc.edu/gradschool/research/profile_11.html


nocode
Posted 21 March 2006 at 08:34 pm

dwhitter said: "I believe they are 58, 18, maybe the letter E and 17"

letter E? i thought it's a letter L ( the pink color make the L letter, and the yellow color add the line on the L letter so it's could be seen as E letter if you ignore the color difference).

is anyone here, who had same opinion as me?


jsgasue
Posted 21 March 2006 at 09:47 pm

jsgasue said: "mantis shrimp can see up to 10 unique colors plus another 4 in the ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum"

sorry i meant to say that they have 10 unique pigments


rp2
Posted 22 March 2006 at 01:35 am

from the wikipedia link I see that the numbers on the right side of the page are: 83, 37, 49, and 56

that was before I clicked on the links..


Daniel Fluck
Posted 22 March 2006 at 02:01 am

paintist said: "Well I hope after reading the article you can correct him by saying color blindness is about physiology and genetics and has little or nothing to do with people's personal cares. [...]"

I know that color blindness is not about psychology but physiology. Want I wanted to point out is that maybe evolution skips color vision one day, because we don't need it anymore - or the other way around, we all get tetrachromats.

By the way, I see four more or less colored squares at the top. Anything I miss.... :-)


Metryq
Posted 22 March 2006 at 04:01 am

paintist said: "But articles such as these suggest that there is a very large reality way beyond human sensory perception. There are sounds being made which we cannot hear, there are colors which we cannot see, there are textures so small we cannot feel their differences and so on… Damn interesting shiznat."

Not entirely beyond human perception once technology gets around to creating the "translators" like UV and IR sensitive cameras, radar, microphones that can hear whales, elephants and giraffes. We've even heard the "sounds" made by the planets in the vacuum of space and seen the stress patterns of magnetic fields. Frederik Pohl's classic MAN PLUS describes the experiences of a cyborg built to survive on Mars. He is endowed with fantastic new senses, including a computer that can alter his perception of time.

Many CCD or CMOS cameras are sensitive to IR. If you have a camcorder or a Web cam, fire your TV remote at it...


Marius
Posted 22 March 2006 at 04:18 am

Metryq said: "Not entirely beyond human perception once technology gets around to creating the "translators" like UV and IR sensitive cameras, radar, microphones that can hear whales, elephants and giraffes. We've even heard the "sounds" made by the planets in the vacuum of space and seen the stress patterns of magnetic fields. Frederik Pohl's classic MAN PLUS describes the experiences of a cyborg built to survive on Mars. He is endowed with fantastic new senses, including a computer that can alter his perception of time.


Many CCD or CMOS cameras are sensitive to IR. If you have a camcorder or a Web cam, fire your TV remote at it…"

Wow! I'd forgotten about that wonderful book. I read it in high school, and it is a fascinating study in the artificial alteration of perception.


joe schmoe
Posted 22 March 2006 at 05:48 am

Isn't this like the movie "Unbreakable"? If you have someone on one end of the scale you must have someone on the other.


skwigul
Posted 22 March 2006 at 08:25 am

nocode said: "letter E? i thought it's a letter L ( the pink color make the L letter, and the yellow color add the line on the L letter so it's could be seen as E letter if you ignore the color difference). "

The color difference probably catches a different type or degree of color-blindness. Same thing with the different colored digits in the first square.


Chilehead
Posted 22 March 2006 at 07:49 pm

Daniel Fluck said: "A man said to me once, there are more and more people suffering from color blindness because we don't care much about colors anymore. Of course we have all those rainbow colors, but can we distinguish 40 different greens as people living in the jungle can? We can not anymore because we care more about structures, edges and curves, glittering and twinkling. And now the tetrachromat women show us the opposite. So where are we heading to?"

Where does caring about something enter into genetics and evolution?
A recent article in Discover magazine put forth the idea that man evolved color vision in the first place (more people with color vision survived to successfully reproduce) partially because it allowed early man to better detect the emotional state of other people - skin flushing, blushing and the like. I found another article (elsewhere, I believe) that stated that color-blind soldiers are the best ones to hang out with in combat because along with the decrease in the ability to see red, there is an increased perception in the green/khaki range allowing them to pick out people wearing camoflage clothing much easier than people with normal color vision can- this possibly was an advantage to early man because they were better able to see animals (be they food or predators) that were hiding amongst leaves, either up in the trees or on the ground.

My father was color-blind, and in hindsight I can laugh at the pastor's comment during the funeral: "Now he is in heaven, and can see in color for the first time."


DovetailSage
Posted 22 March 2006 at 09:11 pm

Is there an actual test for being a tetrachromat? I have noticed that I seem to find richness in colours better than most people. (and am female) I passed the test on this page and Wiki for color blindness with flying colors (ahem, excuse the pun). Now I'm curious to see if I really do see things differently.

My husband is both red and green color blind. Its really hard to describe things to him. He doesn't know what a rainbow looks like, or a sunset! Just the yellows really. So a rainbow is just a yellowish streak in the sky.


Cynthia Wood
Posted 23 March 2006 at 07:13 am

Dovetail, if you follow the links to Searching for Madam Tetrachromat, you'll find the names of three different researchers who are looking into tetrachromats. You might try contacting one of them. I don't believe there's any publicly available test that would check for tetrachromatism.


thehumbug
Posted 23 March 2006 at 04:37 pm

I can only see 8 in the first picture and 18 in the second, but with the help of photoshop I can see that 8 is really a 58, the 3rd picture is an E (the top two prongs are orange the remaining L is red), and the last one is a green 17.

Afterwards I turned the picture to gray scale. I know it's cheating to say I can make them out after I know what they are, but I could make out the 18, the 17 and the 58. This proposes to me that color blinds us.


ForestGrump
Posted 24 March 2006 at 06:43 am

thehumbug,
you're not missing anything. there are simply things in this world that should not be seen.


rp2
Posted 24 March 2006 at 11:59 am

thehumbug said: "Afterwards I turned the picture to gray scale. I know it's cheating to say I can make them out after I know what they are, but I could make out the 18, the 17 and the 58. This proposes to me that color blinds us."

I can natually see everything in the picture, but when I took the image into photoshop and turned it to gray scale- I could only make out the 18.


ye great
Posted 24 March 2006 at 09:23 pm

58
18
E
17
I figured them out on the first glance


thomasgregory
Posted 26 March 2006 at 01:50 pm

2U

&7
44
G2
I figured them out on the first glance.


samesense
Posted 26 March 2006 at 05:30 pm

The ability to distinguish colors is insignificant next to the power of the Force.


alipardiwala
Posted 27 March 2006 at 07:51 am

I always thought colourblindness meant only seeing everything in black and white like those old Charlie Chaplin movies...


pairanoyd
Posted 27 March 2006 at 10:11 pm

Heh, I saw the stuff on this page in a blink, then I checked the wiki images and those jumped out and grabbed me too. I'm 45 and I now have to use dime store reading glasses to see stuff up close but my eyesight beyond 3 feet is excellent. I can can see the string on a balloon floating well over 100 yards away, I can read road signs twice as far away as anyone else. And I can see at night like it's daytime.

I like the night because of my night vision. It's cool to go out in the dark and see things so clearly.
It's nice to walk outside at night and exclaim to myself, "Wow, it's sure bright out tonight!"
I frequently wear a cap to shield my eyes from street lights because they blind me at night time.

I walk my dog at night and it's often that we play fetch in the yard at 3am. On a full moon night, it may as well be 12 noon as far as I'm concerned. Even on no moon nights I can see great. My dog is black and I can see him in the shadows of bushes on a no moon night. No need for a flashlight for me.
Last year when hurricane Rita hit and knocked the power out for 200 miles in every direction, it was pitch black. The ONLY light was moon and starlight for weeks afterwards. To me, the sky was incredible. It seemed almost solid white with stars. Under normal times when the city is all lit up, you can't see many stars here. So that was a big bonus to me.

I've always enjoyed my color acuity and low light acuity. I don't know why I am like this but it's nice. I really enjoy the night and I always was a sucker for brightly colored things. HDTV to me is mind blowing, it actually overloads my circuits so I just have a normal TV.
And BTW mom, I didn't eat my carrots!!


pairanoyd
Posted 27 March 2006 at 10:36 pm

Oh, and I almost forgot, I can see IR. I can clearly see MOST IR remote control LEDS in the dark if I look at them straight on. I bought a package of 100 920nm LEDS for a camera project and the dealer SWORE that they were totally invisible to the human eye.. Bzzzzzzzzzzzt.. Wrong answer. I can see them glow like cigarettes in the dark.

Any one can check me on this by pointing a remote control at me in a dark room and pushing the buttons and asking me on, off or blinking.
And for my night acuity, I have a .05lux security camera watching the outside of my place. I can see 100 times better than what that thing gives me. I've yet to find a security camera that can see in the dark as well as I can. I suppose if there is one it would be really expensive..


0122017
Posted 28 March 2006 at 06:38 am

>>>>>> pairanoyd

Can you email me? If you really can see infrared im interested in talking to you :)
Im a biology student. " S0122017@umail.leidenuniv.nl "


0122017
Posted 28 March 2006 at 06:39 am

pairanoyd said: "Oh, and I almost forgot, I can see IR. I can clearly see MOST IR remote control LEDS in the dark if I look at them straight on. I bought a package of 100 920nm LEDS for a camera project and the dealer SWORE that they were totally invisible to the human eye.. Bzzzzzzzzzzzt.. Wrong answer. I can see them glow like cigarettes in the dark.

Any one can check me on this by pointing a remote control at me in a dark room and pushing the buttons and asking me on, off or blinking.
And for my night acuity, I have a .05lux security camera watching the outside of my place. I can see 100 times better than what that thing gives me. I've yet to find a security camera that can see in the dark as well as I can. I suppose if there is one it would be really expensive.."

If you really can see infrared im interested in talking to you :)
Im a biology student. " S0122017@umail.leidenuniv.nl "


Josh Harding
Posted 28 March 2006 at 10:54 am

alipardiwala said: "I always thought colourblindness meant only seeing everything in black and white like those old Charlie Chaplin movies…"

No, man. That was when the world was black and white...sometime in the 50's the world became technicolor.


Ultraformat
Posted 28 March 2006 at 02:18 pm

For those who can't see the numbers, you might check the calibration of your monitor. Photographers have to use a measuring device that reads off the screen for best accuracy. If you have an LCD flat screen, the high-end CRT's can also give better color rendition.


stephentross
Posted 29 March 2006 at 06:12 am

I can barely make out the 5 in 58, The 18 is clear, the other 2 are just squares, and I know I’m color blind, I fall in the 8% of color blind males. This article did however give me a nice feeling. It isn’t that color is absent. It is just disturbed. I see red green, etc...Etc... I’m just a little crossed somewhere within those damn pastels


pairanoyd
Posted 30 March 2006 at 02:13 am

0122017 said: "Any one can check me on this by pointing a remote control at me in a dark room and pushing the buttons and asking me on, off or blinking.

And for my night acuity, I have a .05lux security camera watching the outside of my place. I can see 100 times better than what that thing gives me. I've yet to find a security camera that can see in the dark as well as I can. I suppose if there is one it would be really expensive.."

If you really can see infrared im interested in talking to you :)

Im a biology student. " S0122017@umail.leidenuniv.nl ""

Hi, I sent you an email. Check to make sure it's not in the spam box as it's an extremely odd address.


andycwb
Posted 31 March 2006 at 08:06 am

I can sometimes see a glow from remote LEDs too, but I'd always assumed it meant some of the radiation was up in the visible part of the spectrum...


zerendra
Posted 10 April 2006 at 01:56 am

Sometimes when I turn off every light in my room -- including my modem, chargers, monitor, etc. -- I see millions of colors flickering around like static. When I stare at my carpet in the dark, I can see it embossing, distorting, and vibrating. Even when I leave my eyes closed, and think of a person, object, or number, I can see them/it. Sometimes, if I concentrate hard enough with my eyes shut, I can see moving images without actually being asleep.

..but, I also suffer from derealization due to a severe anxiety disorder, so, I don't know.

Happen to any of you?


wheretreesgo
Posted 21 April 2006 at 10:11 pm

Zerendra,

i also see flickering colors that are like static (perfect description, btw). i see it better in the dark, but i can also see it quite well in the light. carpets also always get to me-- they distort a lot. i can also see slightly colored fields around people and objects. i've read in some places that that's what auras look like, but i doubt if what i see has any signifcance in that sense. i don't know if people normally see things like this, but i've always seen things this way. i remember trying to describe what i see as a child and my parents just not getting what i was talking about at all. i since learned to just not mention it at all.

but boy. this stuff sure is damn interesting. (it's my first comment. i couldn't help it.)


ouflak
Posted 23 May 2006 at 11:36 am

@Zerendra and wheretreesgo,

You guys might want to take tests for Synaesthesia. You might have some form of that.


Scantron
Posted 15 July 2006 at 10:51 pm

I'm pretty sure I'm a tetrachromat, but I've never been tested. I have arguments with people all the time about red vs. red-orange and blue vs. blue-green and blue-purple. My best friend has a redish-orange sofa and red side tables and everyone else who's ever been to his place thinks they're all the same shade, but I can clearly see they're two different colors. He, on the other hand, is red-green color-blind, so he can't tell at all.

I'd like to hear from some other women on here to see if anyone else has had similar experiences with color.


iinka
Posted 11 August 2006 at 02:06 am

Hey Scantron, I too have arguments with friends over colours like that. I get so frustrated cause they are so adamant that two colours are practically the same and the difference is like the difference between black and white to me... although i hang round with alot of boys and rarely girls, so i just assumed that it was simply because they had less attuned senses or something...

And i too seem to be able to see well in the dark... or really small text, or really far away things... my freinds joke and call it my 'super sight' and always get me to read specials menu's in resteraunts that are too small and far away for them (so they didnt have to get up and walk over there), or check what number busses are comming from down the street. Once again i just assumed they had dodgy vision and i was normal, but maybe not - maybe i DO have SUPERVISION... heheh...

although sadly - i swear i'm loosing my night vision... i used to be able to see REALLY well in the dark... not quite as well as paranoyd described... but i could get around easily and see most objects... i used to love it... wandering around the house in the dark... pretending i was a female version of the dude in 'Pitch Black' ... at least i can still see enough not to run into tables and things... however when driving at night - headlights sometimes are so bright as to give me a headache!

Someone should do studies like this on Hearing - i swear i have weird hearing... like sometimes i think i can subconciously hear radio waves or something... because i can often know what song is on the radio before it gets turned on... (i'm guessing i can just hear someone elses radio who is a long way away - otherwise i would be picking up all radio stations or something... which i dont) and i can hear weather electrical equipment is on or not... My friends get me to sit in the living room with a blindfold and turn the TV on/off/standby and i have to pick between. I can even tell if the TV is off but still receiving signals from the VCR cause i can hear a quiet high pitched buzzing or something. its hard to describe.... but i dont seem to have any particular special hearing when it comes to quiet noises or anything... just elecrical equipment... i guess its the frequencies or something of power running through copper?

Maybe i'm just a freak with a highly active imagination!!


Serp
Posted 18 September 2006 at 07:28 am

Wouldn't 5 also be possible then? If a woman happens to have alleles coding for two different "red" cones and two different "green" cones, then wouldn't she actually possess cones centered on 5 different wavelengths?

Has anything like this been done with the locus controlling the blue cone? Is it possible to be heterozygous and produce two different types of "blue" receptors. (If this is the case, then hexachromy would theoretically be possible too, eh?)


mjmartin
Posted 30 October 2006 at 07:16 pm

Okay, this is going to sound a little strange but since google has led me here, and I'm not really sure where to turn with this, I'll just post here.

I have a lot of the sympoms of what is being described in tetrachromats. I never heard of it before today but I stumbled on an article by chance and, well, I think I stopped breathing for a while. I'm not sure really what to do now except confess myself to a bunch of strangers on a blog....... (lol)

Ever since I can remember I've had a problem with my perception not matching up to what others see. I'm not saying I am a tetrachromat - no idea if that's it, or if my brain is just screwed up in some other weird way - but all I can do is describe what I see and maybe someone can offer some advice into whether it matches or not

For me the world is an explosion of colour, colour, colour. Colours I barely know how to describe, ALL the time - though it's stronger the less light there is for some reason (ie not too bad in daylight, but in pitch black its utterly crazy). The nearest I can describe it as, is when you have a TV channel not tuned in, and you see those black and white pixels flying around. Everything looks like that to me, except in 3D and in colour (in fact, if I sit around staring at it, sometimes shapes form in the same way you do when you look at a tv screen). For a while I wondered if it was some kind of synaesthesia after seeing a programme on that (my mother has sometimes told me she has synaesthesia where she associates colours with numbers - no idea if she's being truthful, or if it's related though) but it doesn't fit that at all really. For years I've been doing my best to ignore it and hide it.

I have no idea if I have any superior ability to differentiate colours in a general sense - no way to really tell that I don't think. But there's no turning off what I see and, until today, I had no idea how to explain it. Just in case you're wondering, yes I'm a girl.

Does anyone think that might be any kind of match, or am I barking up the wrong tree here?


stoid7
Posted 15 November 2006 at 06:14 am

while i cant see in infrared as some of yall have claimed, i could read the boxes in this and the wikipedia link. only peculiar thing iv noticed for years though, is my eyes dont see the same shade of red and green. my right eye would see a vivid red, while the left it would be more of a pinkish red. weird. but entertaining after a night of drinking :)


Proserpine
Posted 21 November 2006 at 03:43 am

Scantron said: "I'm pretty sure I'm a tetrachromat, but I've never been tested. I have arguments with people all the time about red vs. red-orange and blue vs. blue-green and blue-purple. My best friend has a redish-orange sofa and red side tables and everyone else who's ever been to his place thinks they're all the same shade, but I can clearly see they're two different colors."

I have this sort of dispute constantly. Very often, I have to try to convince the skeptical that a certain thing is not actually black, but very, very dark blue. Purple-red and green-blue in particular get me into plenty of hopeless arguments.

Even when I was a toddler, people have insisted I help them with colour selection for clothing, paint, and the like-- even strangers in stores where my mother was shopping and I was announcing aloud to myself which combinations I liked. Years later, my mother usually insists that I choose the thread for any fabric she is sewing, and doesn't like to do it herself very often.

I don't know if I'm a tetrachromat, but I definitely see colour differently than most.

iinka--

It's interesting you should mention an auditory study similar to this one-- my mother and I can hear a bit higher even than most woman (who can hear to a slightly higher pitch than most men can)-- we can both hear dog whistles, although probably not as well as a dog could. I can hear any of the allegedly "supersonic" repellent devices on the market, such as those used in dog collars or to keep away biting insects. I was actually surprised to find this article, because I'd long wondered if anyone percieved light and colour with a greater-than-average range.


squib
Posted 10 December 2006 at 09:05 am

Hello, my name is Jonathan. All the above symptoms are caused by Serotonin, especially the 5ht2 receptor - to do with perception. I can see 53 & 58, 18, E & L and 17 plus almost half of 12. My vision varies with not just colour but whiteness with a lilac/magenta which helps to pick out more colours. Tetrachromats may also have anxiety. Hope this helps all of you!


Codog
Posted 15 December 2006 at 05:32 am

Colorblind brothers unite! At least we can all take solace in the fact that it is proven that color-blind individuals are much more intellegent than the rest of the population. If you are color-blind, then you already know what I mean. Haha to all you "color seers".


squib
Posted 17 December 2006 at 09:10 am

Mmm, hang on I can see S8 as well as 58. My colour vision seems to vary with mood!

Do pentachromats see red-green, yellow-blue, magenta-green, cyan-red & blue-magenta?


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 31 August 2007 at 12:42 pm

ye great said: "58
18
E
17
I figured them out on the first glance"

For all we know, there could be even more in these little diagrams. I think that those of us who got these may just not be colorblind, not necessarily endowed with any special vision.


tintones
Posted 29 October 2007 at 07:50 pm

this is all very interesting to me, as i began googling for: 'perception blindness.'
This is what I was told I had when I tried to go airborne while in the Army. no dice.
I did'nt even see an 18, I saw a volkswagon. So now I got to this blog and learn learn that I'm a trichromatic. (tetrachromat?)
Photographer ! Some 20 years ago I began handcoloring my Black and White images to suit my fancy. I'm still doing that today ... my solace was that Vincent van Gogh was also: 'perception blind' ... hence: tetrachromat.
thanks for all the interesting info.


Niladri
Posted 19 November 2007 at 06:33 am

Hmmm, now I come to know that I 'm a trichromatic one. I have never seen a tetrachromatic. Now I am a student of University of Technology,MP, India and I am suffering from some colour irregularities. While browsing on the net I found this article and I found it interesting too. Do you know I have a friend in Kolkata who can't see the color of raddish!! However I too become confuse when I see the raddish!!! is it a raddish or carrot?


jenniferpankratz
Posted 08 June 2008 at 09:34 am

I'm fairly sure I'm a tetrachromat. It's not fun like it sounds. Most people think I have color disability when picking out things because I will say, "It's too blue." To them it looks green. To me, it's obviously green but it also has too much blue to match. So your world, always looks out of whack, few things match or works together. It's overwhelming when people use to much color in rooms. If your friend feels the need to decorate in all neutral, nature tones to feel at ease...she may be a tetrachromat. I just read I owe this "advantage" to my color blind father. He is a great hunter. I saw in an article that color blind men actually have an advantage in picking out things against a confusing background such as needed for hunting and for things that are camouflaged so we should be careful labeling who has the advantage evolutionarily speaking.


G H
Posted 16 November 2008 at 05:56 am

Just visted the Wikipedia link and noticed an error in the rainbow colors and there is a color missing or is there?
The colors should be: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.
I was once informed that that color-blindness is more frequent in people who have light blue eyes. True or not? Does anyone know?


poppy66
Posted 24 March 2009 at 06:13 pm

Can someone please explain to me why I can't look at print in red and blue? (Ie: red print on a blue background and visa versa). Even if I spot it at my peripherals I have to jerk my head away as I get an instant headache and become nauseaous. The words shake violently.

I am not colour blind.


colleenish
Posted 22 March 2010 at 08:39 pm

0122017 said: "pairanoyd said: “Oh, and I almost forgot, I can see IR. I can clearly see MOST IR remote control LEDS in the dark if I look at them straight on. I bought a package of 100 920nm LEDS for a camera project and the dealer SWORE that they were totally invisible to the human eye.. Bzzzzzzzzzzzt.. Wrong answer. I can see them glow like cigarettes in the dark.

Any one can check me on this by pointing a remote control at me in a dark room and pushing the buttons and asking me on, off or blinking.
And for my night acuity, I have a .05lux security camera watching the outside of my place. I can see 100 times better than what that thing gives me. I’ve yet to find a security camera that can see in the dark as well as I can. I suppose if there is one it would be really expensive..”
If you really can see infrared im interested in talking to you :)
Im a biology student. ” S0122017@umail.leidenuniv.nl ”"

I thought everyone could see the light from a remote. I can. It is easier in the dark obviously, but it is plain as day. Is there anyone who can't see this light? I'll try it on my boyfriend when he comes home.


catyize007
Posted 05 October 2011 at 01:33 pm

Are you telling me that most people cannot read the numbers in these four squares??? 58, 18, E, and 17. This is just like the inkblot tests, and I had no problem with those either. Does that make me a Tetrachromat?? I would not be surprised, I have always been a "color lover," but did not know that there was a name for it!!


Elliander
Posted 25 August 2012 at 09:13 am

I wonder if this is similar to seeing an extra color on a prism. I remember being in Elementary school and being shown a prism in class. The teacher told us the names of the colors, and I noticed she only said 7, but I saw 8. I asked what t
he last color was, and she said it was Violet. I said, "no, after that." and pointed to what I saw and the teacher didn't really say anything after that and moved on. I have always been able to see an extra color, but I can't really be sure if the extra color I saw was beyond violet or between some other colors because of how subjective a finger point can be in a case like this.

P.S. - I am a male, so if it is similar there must be a different mechanism than the one described. I'm a 4.0 student with a major in "Biochemistry" and "Biological Sciences: Genetics and Cellular Biology" so maybe someday I can just study myself and compare it with a sample of these women to see if there is any similarity.


Horses_see_reen_as_grey And_this_is_good
Posted 27 January 2014 at 07:53 pm

I found another article (elsewhere, I believe) that stated that color-blind soldiers are the best ones to hang out with in combat because along with the decrease in the ability to see red, there is an increased perception in the green/khaki range allowing them to pick out people wearing camoflage clothing much easier than people with normal color vision can- this possibly was an advantage to early man because they were better able to see animals (be they food or predators) that were hiding amongst leaves, either up in the trees or on the ground.

Where you and I look at a large green grassy field and grunt at the seeming uniformity of it, horses see a grey field, highlighted with various hues of yellow, red, blue, and white, making it super easy to locate the varieties (and degrees of sun exposure) of foliage that are most edible.


Horses_see_green_as_grey And_this_is_good
Posted 27 January 2014 at 08:04 pm

Elliander said: "I wonder if this is similar to seeing an extra color on a prism. I remember being in Elementary school and being shown a prism in class. The teacher told us the names of the colors, and I noticed she only said 7, but I saw 8. I asked what t
he last color was, and she said it was Violet. I said, "no, after that." and pointed to what I saw and the teacher didn't really say anything after that and moved on. I have always been able to see an extra color, but I can't really be sure if the extra color I saw was beyond violet or between some other colors because of how subjective a finger point can be in a case like this.

P.S. - I am a male, so if it is similar there must be a different mechanism than the one described. I'm a 4.0 student with a major in "Biochemistry" and "Biological Sciences: Genetics and Cellular Biology" so maybe someday I can just study myself and compare it with a sample of these women to see if there is any similarity."

Remember that the article mentioned men with a shift in their color attractors. You shifted so slightly to the violet end of the spectrum, you still saw most of the colors others saw. Go buy a prism, put it in the window, and check again to see if your other colors are continuous, or there is a gap.

The other possibility is that you are an XXY, or a merged fraternal twin Chimera with XY in parts of you below and XX in your head. Chimeras are far more common than you think -- with horses it's a lot easier to catch one, because they look brindled are wildly patchy if the two merged twins were different colors. I had a friend with both a mare and her daughter who were merged chimeras. Both were bay in the front half, but greyed out to white in their back halves. Judges would walk over after a show class and ask her just what her mare was -- pintos don't look so 50/50, appaloosas have secondary mottling that wasn't present in her two mares, and greying always starts on a horse's head and spreads to the body, not vice versa, and these mares' heads never greyed out to white. Unless your family is biracial, or you are a chimera split on each side of your head, and each twin had a different color hair, it's usually very hard to tell -- unless, of course, you are a hermaphrodite, or your DNA doesn't match your child -- really suspicious when you are the mother of a baby you saw emerge from you. Some people are one DNA in their skin and another in their blood.

Have you fathered a baby yet? XXY's are usually sterile (calico male cats are). It might be worth getting your DNA done.


END OF COMMENTS
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