Your Brain on Color

Colors Effect the Brain in Different Ways

For years, researchers have been evaluating the influence of color on our emotional state, as well as on our ability to learn. In 1976, Rikard Kuller demonstrated that color and visual patterns affect the cortex and the central nervous system. Color has also been proven to alter the level of alpha brain wave activity, a measurable indicator of human alertness. In addition, when the human eye takes in color, the brain releases a hormone which affects our moods, mental clarity and energy level. These findings can have a monumental impact on schools and other educational facilities by promoting productivity and focus in the classroom. In fact, color may be as important as comfortable classroom chairs and classroom tables for student efficiency. Even the color of school lockers can add much to the atmosphere in the classroom.

Color and Eye Strain

Concentrating on school work at a desk, and then shifting focus to a board or distant area over and over again, is a demanding task for a student’s eyes. Researchers have found that the eye relaxes more when it stops to rest on a different color than that of its previous focal point. Therefore, to alleviate eye strain in a classroom, the wall facing the students should be painted in a different shade than the rest of the room. When students look up from their desks, the colored wall helps their eyes relax. For best results, the end wall colors should be a medium hue like blue, green or light purple, while the other walls should be neutral- with colors like oyster white, sandstone or beige.

Color and Brain Stimulation

Research has also shown that small color changes can make a difference by stimulating a person’s brain. In an environmental color coordination study conducted by the US Navy, researchers found that the introduction of color caused a 28% drop in accidents.  Color in the classroom has also been found to increase productivity and to enhance the student’s attention span. A 1983 study by Harry Wohlfarth evaluated students at four elementary schools, monitoring their performances under the influence of improved lighting and color conditions, and a lack thereof. The students who were exposed to enhanced lighting and additional colors showed a marked improvement over those who were not.