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Tetrachromatic color vision in goldfish: evidence from color mixture experiments

Summary

Additive color mixture experiments were performed in the goldfish using a behavioral training technique in which the fish had to discriminate between two test fields.

  1. 1.

    When trained on monochromatic light of 570, 584, 599 or 608 nm, and tested against an additive mixture of 523 nm and 641 nm, the fish showed a “match” at certain mixture ratios. This was also the case when trained on 484, 490 or 495 nm, and tested against an additive mixture of 471 nm and 523 nm.

  2. 2.

    To match 404 nm, an additive mixture of 434 nm and 367 nm was necessary, whereas a mixture of 434 nm and 683 nm was always clearly discriminable.

  3. 3.

    For equality with the “white” light of a xenon-arc lamp, an additive mixture of 4 primary wavelengths was necessary and sufficient: 641, 523, 434 and 367 nm. This mixture was also equal to a mixture of 404 nm and 599 nm, and to a mixture of tungsten-“white” and UV.

  4. 4.

    The results can be qualitatively explained on the basis of the 4 cone types of the goldfish. For a quantitative description, cone sensitivity functions modified by inhibitory interactions have to be assumed. — Color vision in goldfish is tetrachromatic.

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Neumeyer, C. Tetrachromatic color vision in goldfish: evidence from color mixture experiments. J Comp Physiol A 171, 639–649 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00194111

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Key words

  • Color vision
  • Goldfish, (Carassius auratus)
  • Additive color mixture
  • Tetrachromacy