Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Super Human Vision

Super Vision

       In class, we discussed the functioning of rods and cones in the eye and how they relate to the approximated 8% of men and 0.5% of women suffering from colorblindness. This colorblindness is caused when one of the three cones in the eye is mutated and less sensitive to the colors red and green. After asking Google "why more men than women suffer from colorblindness?", an article titled "The Humans With Super Human Vision" popped up and I couldn't help but read it. 
      The article discusses a portion of women who are able to see millions of colors and hues, that are invisible to the rest of humans who come equipped with the three different types of cones. You may be wondering how this is possible or what it even means? Well, in 1948 when Dutch scientist HJ De Vries studied mothers and daughters of color-blind men, he determined that they did contain the mutated cone; however, they were not color-blind. Instead, these women possessed the mutated cone in addition to the three normal cones they were expected to have. After many tests, De Vries gave up on trying to determine if these women really did have super human vision. Later on, however, neuroscientists Gabriella Jordan and John Mollon were studying colorblindness in monkeys and hypothesized that if colorblindness exists, four-coned women must too. Jordan estimated that 12% of the female population possessed this extra cone and proceeded to continue De Vries research. It was in 2007 when Jordan ran a test that unveiled a woman with super human vision. The test was conducted in a dark room, while women looked into a lab device and saw three colored circles flashing. Someone with the three normal cones would perceive these circles as one in the same, but if the fourth cone was present, one of the circles would stand out and present a mixture of red and green. This test was given to 25 women, all possessing the fourth cone; these women who are lucky enough to enjoy the millions of colors we are, plus millions more, are known as tetrachromats.

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