I see colours you cannot perceive or imagine'

I see colours you cannot perceive or imagine'
PHOTO: Pixabay

A few years ago, the artist Concetta Antico discovered that she was carrying a genetic mutation that gave her astonishingly sensitive perception of colour - seeing a spectrum of distinct shades where we only see one.

As she told BBC Future in 2014, even the dullest pebble on the road shimmered like a kaleidoscope.

"The little stones jump out at me with oranges, yellows, greens, blues and pinks," she says. "I'm kind of shocked when I realise what other people aren't seeing."

A seemingly plain green leaf may burst with vivid red shades, while a punnet of tomatoes is a multi-coloured palette of tones - Antico claims she can pick out the ripest fruit at a glance, thanks to subtle differences in its shade that would be invisible to most of us. "The intense colours are speaking to me all the time," she says today.

In the same way that a colour blind person cannot imagine the variety of reds and greens that most people can see, most of us may not be able to picture the rainbow she is describing.

Back in 2014, the scientific research into Antico's abilities had only just commenced, but today the investigations are in full swing - with a brand new paper providing some striking insights into her world.

It had long been known that people with extraordinary vision like Antico should in theory exist, thanks to an unusual difference in the way their eye is constructed.

Imagine the retina as a kind of mosaic, composed of different kinds of light-sensitive cells known as cones. Most of us have three kinds of cones tuned to different sets of light wavelengths (making us "trichromat").

Read the full article here.

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