I've come across an article (in Russian), which describes a nonlinear two-component color vision theory made in 1975 by S. Remenko. The article heavily criticizes trichromatic theory as very imperfect. There's a whole page related to the criticism. Some of the citations there refer to Feynman's lectures vol. I ch. 35, where also some doubts are expressed. See e.g. the part by Feynman:

Using the three different kinds of color blindness, the three pigment response curves have finally been determined, and are shown in Fig. 35–8. Finally? Perhaps. There is a question as to whether the three-pigment idea is right, whether color blindness results from lack of one pigment, and even whether the color-mix data on color blindness are right. Different workers get different results. This field is still very much under development.

But the only English-language place I've found mentioning Remenko's two-component theory was the book "Computer Systems for Healthcare and Medicine" by Piotr Bilski and Francesca Guerriero, where the first name also looks suspiciously Russian.

So I'm somewhat skeptic about credibility of all this Remenko's theory and the criticism of the trichromatic theory. But having not much expertise in color vision theories, I thus prefer to ask the experts: is the theory by Remenko actually credible? Is it even known outside of Russian-speaking world? Has it been falsified? Is trichromatic theory really flawed in any significant way so that a replacement theory would be required (are Feynman's remarks out of date?)?

  • We have the physiology of colour vision nailed down pretty precisely, across a broad suite of species. There are some subtleties (there aren't, strictly, only three receptors involved in vision, and the number and properties of the receptors differ between species). But the general theory is still basically trichromatic theory. If the mechanisms in 'two-component theory' are very different, then that theory is very wrong. See biology.stackexchange.com/questions/39882/… – bshane Oct 19 at 0:33
  • answering your sub-Q: Remenko's theory of color vision is not really shows up on Google search. So it is likely very esoteric – aaaaaa Oct 19 at 0:53
up vote 8 down vote accepted

That era produced a lot of very questionable science from Russia; there is no good reason to doubt the three-component color vision theory, and it's also the basis of all RGB TVs and computer monitors. However, I can't read Russian so I don't have any idea what this two-component theory is.

Typical humans have three cone cells, which is the biological origin of having three components for color vision. Colorblind individuals who lack one of the three cones have color discrimination issues consistent with the three component model. I am not aware of any credible research that questions this.

The lack of further study into the theory you refer to probably puts it into the category of "not even wrong" - based on such flawed reasoning or premises that it isn't worth disputing.


Nathans, J., Merbs, S. L., Sung, C. H., Weitz, C. J., & Wang, Y. (1992). Molecular genetics of human visual pigments. Annual review of genetics, 26(1), 403-424.

  • Please see the edit to the question. I've added some relevant part of the Feynman's remarks about validity of trichromatic theory. – Ruslan Oct 18 at 20:48
  • @Ruslan Color-blindness is slightly more complicated because not everyone's color-blindness is because they are missing a particular cone. The others are because of shifts in the wavelengths the pigments are sensitive to. – Bryan Krause Oct 18 at 20:59

Your Answer

 
discard

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.