Scientific Summary

Scientific Summary of Concetta Antico’s Tetrachromatic Color Vision

The science of vision is complex and our understanding of how we “see”, interpret and process our environment conveyed by visible light is evolving. The scientific study of visual perception spans many scientific disciplines – genetics and molecular biology, neuroscience, psychology and cognitive science.

Scientists have been able to map and identify the physical components contributing to sight and the pathways of the visual system in the brains of humans and animals, but they are still exploring the interaction between genes and the outcome or expression of those genes as they relate to visual perception.

Infrequently, an individual may have a specific gene mutation that ultimately provides a genetic potential for the expression of four distinct classes of retinal photopigments, whereas most people have three retinal photopigments. Individuals who have four retinal photopigments are said to have the genes or genetic basis for retinal tetrachromacy (tetra = four, chroma = color). Concetta is such an individual whose genetic analysis in late 2012 demonstrated a genetic sequence consistent with the specific gene mutation permitting the expression for four retinal photopigments.

While the science of how the nervous system translates and processes the signaling and information derived from these four retinal photopigments is under intense debate, we do know, and see from Concetta’s paintings as well as from early perceptual investigations she has undergone, that she has exceptional color processing compared to normal controls. Further study into her color perception and processing is the topic of on-going and intense research.

Further details about color vision genetics, the phenotypic expression of tetrachromacy, and its empirical demonstration can be found at: