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If You Could See Through My Eyes

The Experience of Color Vision


Author(s)

Andrew M. Petzold
Center for Learning Innovation
University of Minnesota Rochester
petzo002@umn.edu

Abstract

This directed case study explores the topic of color vision and its variations as experienced in humans. The case begins with a review of visual transduction from photons to recognition within the nervous system. The focus then shifts to an examination of genetic color vision deficiencies, a topic which is complicated by the fact that color vision is essentially an experienced phenomenon. Although the basic technical aspects of color vision can be grasped through the study of the activation of photoreceptors, variations in color vision are difficult to describe in terms other than differences in photoreceptor absorbency rates. In this case study, students explore the physiology, genetics, and evolution of color vision and how color vision deficiencies can be identified through real-world testing. The case is appropriate for use in courses that include an introductory level focus on physiology of special senses, including undergraduate anatomy and physiology, nursing, or a specialized undergraduate biology course, as well as appropriate honors high school classes.


Objectives

  • Outline the structure and function of photoreceptors.
  • Describe the limits of color vision by examining absorbance spectra of photoreceptors.
  • Extrapolate how color vision can be altered with alterations to genetic structure of photoreceptors and descriptions of color vision deficiencies.
  • Integrate knowledge of color vision deficiencies with available testing procedures to develop questions that can ascertain if an individual suffers from color vision deficiencies.
  • Theorize why color vision deficiencies persist in the population from an evolutionary standpoint.

Keywords

Color vision; photoreceptors; phototransduction; color; color blindness; color blind; color deficiency; protanopia; deuteranopia; tritanopia; photoreceptors

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Directed, Discussion

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Physiology  |   Psychology  |   Nursing  |  


Date Posted

08/24/2020

Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Supplemental Materials

The PowerPoint presentation below includes a set of optional figures for the instructor to project in class.

  
  color_sight.pptx (~1.4 MB)

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Videos

The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  • Protanopia
    A brief simulation of protanopia. Running time: 0:54 min. Produced by Carlos Hernandex Matas, 2011.
  • Deuteranopia
    A brief simulation of deuteranopia. Running time: 0:54 min. Produced by Carlos Hernandex Matas, 2011.
  • Tritanopia
    A brief simulation of tritanopia. Running time: 1:44 min. Produced by Carlos Hernandex Matas, 2015.

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