Imagine having the ability to perceive colours that the vast majority of other people cannot see.

Would that not open you up to a whole new different reality, which is infinitely more powerful and er, colourful than most other people are able to imagine?

You see, one lady has completely shattered established scientific wisdom on how many colours a normal person should be able to see.

Concetta Antico, an Australian artist, has a condition known as tetrachromacy. This means that where a normal person can only perceive up to a million colours, she can see 100 million distinctive colours.

The human eye is packed with millions of cone-shaped cells that enable us to see different tones and hues.

For those with normal vision, the three types of cones allow vision of about one million distinctive colors.

Other animal species including certain birds, fish, and insects for example have a fourth type of cone cell that extends color perception into the UV range.

For hundreds of years, philosophers have debated whether we all perceive colours in the same way. It appears, we do not. My red, is indeed not the same as yours.

Even though a tetrachromats’ eyes may be able to interpret a wider range of the electromagnetic spectrum, the brain interprets those images, which allow us to visually perceive the outside world.

The eye picks up information (ie. light) and sends it back to the brain for processing. The actual processing system between tetrachromats and those with normal trichromatic vision is fundamentally the same, though there is evidence that focused training could allow for perception to be expanded.

In other words, you can train yourself to see a greater range of colours.

For Antico, even in single tones, such as red, green or blue, she can see a whole spectrum of different colours within those, whereas most people just see one.

This has allowed her to create powerful, impressionist artwork, which attempts to convey what she sees to the world.

Antico has been working closely with a team of researchers to investigate her condition. If the researchers are able to understand tetrachromacy in any great detail, it may pave the way for other people without the condition, to be able to train themselves to see more colours.

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