Polymorphism of the long-wavelength cone in normal human colour vision

Nature. 1986 Oct;323(6089):623-5. doi: 10.1038/323623a0.


Colour vision is based on the presence of multiple classes of cone each of which contains a different type of photopigment. Colour matching tests have long revealed that the normal human has three cone types. Results from these tests have also been used to provide estimates of cone spectral sensitivities. There are significant variations in colour matches made by individuals whose colour vision is classified as normal. Some of this is due to individual differences in preretinal absorption and photopigment density, but some is also believed to arise because there is variation in the spectral positioning of the cone pigments among those who have normal colour vision. We have used a sensitive colour matching test to examine the magnitude and nature of this individual variation and here report evidence for the existence of two different long-wavelength cone mechanisms in normal humans. The different patterns of colour matches made by male and female subjects indicate these two mechanisms are inherited as an X-chromosome linked trait.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Sex Factors
  • X Chromosome