Segregation Analysis Suggests That a Genetic Reason May Contribute to "the Dress" Colour Perception

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Plos One


Geisel School of Medicine


In early 2015, the debate of blue-black and white-gold color perception from ''the dress'' became an overnight internet phenomenon. According to the vote from the online social network Twitter, more people observed white-gold colors than those who observed blue-black colors. Biological explanations have been proposed by neurologist and other scientists, most of which mainly focus on the bias of color perception from visual cortex assuming different illuminants as backgrounds. The goal of this study was to investigate the genetic reason that might be underlying this phenomenon. We carried out a preliminary survey study using four complex pedigrees and examined the inheritance mode influencing the ability to perceive the real colors, blue-black, from the photograph. We evaluated the likelihood of sporadic, major gene in Mendelian mode, major gene in non-Mendelian mode and environmental models. Complex segregation analyses indicated that the inheritance was probably due to a non-Mendelian major gene effect. Our study also indicated the importance of environmental or epigenetic factors in this color perception trait.