[Tig] Tetrachromancy (Rob Lingelbach)

Richard Kirk richard at filmlight.ltd.uk
Wed Sep 12 10:31:12 BST 2012

Rob Lingelbach <rob at colorist.org> wrote..

> Women have an extra X chromosome.  This makes for some very interesting color variations between
> men and women.  I could refer you to:
> http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/women-see-more-color/
> but I'm not sure that this is definitive.  (be careful what you believe on the published internet).

The idea that women may have an extra red detector programmed on their extra X chromazone has caught people's imagination, and got a lot of reporting, but I haven't seen a lot of proof that this actually happens. Indeed, the RadioLab talk has a woman who was though to be a tetrachromat, and a man who just worked with colour a lot, and they were both able to see more colours. Interior designers, who work wall-sized patches of colour, often seem to have unusual colour discrimination, which I reckon fits with my (duller) peripheral vision theory.

On the other hand, there are somethings that should to exist according to classical genetics. There men who are colour blind in one eye I have met one of the few women who have monochrome cone vision, and hand to write the colours of her clothes in the labels. The current most likely explanation for such oddities are that they are chimeras - people who have different genes in different parts of their body.

We may soon be able to understand this better. People have fixed colour blindness in monkeys using gene therapy…


This fix works on gentleman monkeys as well as lady monkeys, so this does not need the extra X chromazone. The monkeys take about a month before they recognise that the messed up new signals they are getting can be seen as a new colour. The new sensation of 'red' or whatever it is probably does not spring into being with all its learned connotations, but evolves gradually. It is a bit surprising that adults can still adapt to new colours, but there it is.

Truelight cubes and formulas support a 4th channel. If there are tetrachromats out there, we are ready for them!

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