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Comparative Study
, 10 (8), 12

The Dimensionality of Color Vision in Carriers of Anomalous Trichromacy

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Comparative Study

The Dimensionality of Color Vision in Carriers of Anomalous Trichromacy

Gabriele Jordan et al. J Vis.

Abstract

Some 12% of women are carriers of the mild, X-linked forms of color vision deficiencies called "anomalous trichromacy." Owing to random X chromosome inactivation, their retinae must contain four classes of cone rather than the normal three; and it has previously been speculated that these female carriers might be tetrachromatic, capable of discriminating spectral stimuli that are indistinguishable to the normal trichromat. However, the existing evidence is sparse and inconclusive. Here, we address the question using (a) a forced-choice version of the Rayleigh test, (b) a test using multidimensional scaling to reveal directly the dimensionality of the participants' color space, and (c) molecular genetic analyses to estimate the X-linked cone peak sensitivities of a selected sample of strong candidates for tetrachromacy. Our results suggest that most carriers of color anomaly do not exhibit four-dimensional color vision, and so we believe that anomalous trichromacy is unlikely to be maintained by an advantage to the carriers in discriminating colors. However, 1 of 24 obligate carriers of deuteranomaly exhibited tetrachromatic behavior on all our tests; this participant has three well-separated cone photopigments in the long-wave spectral region in addition to her short-wave cone. We assess the likelihood that behavioral tetrachromacy exists in the human population.

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