For instance, art therapy which primarily utilize color has the power to stimulate the limbic part of the brain which plays a key role in retaining information. Learning how color affects memory will help you improve your level of concentration

A Quick Overview on How Color Affects Memory

The advancement in the technology that utilizes different color such as smartphones, internet, and television has encouraged more experts to conduct studies that will help them determine the effect of color on the psychological level like arousal. Further studies have proved that arousal can improve the person’s memory.

The Connection between Colors and Arousal

Experts discovered that color can have a direct impact on the person’s arousal. The idea was earlier proposed by Faber Birren in the 1950s.

He stated that the warm color like yellow and red can increase your arousal better than green or blue. Colors at the warmer spectrums are those that are vivid in nature.

This finding was then supported by supplemental studies done last 1983. They also discovered that the warmer colors can dramatically increase our arousal compared to the cooler colors.

During the study, they measure the participants’ place quality, personal feelings, and emotional response. According to the result, orange and yellow are better in improving the person’s level of arousal.

A report in 1966 by Wilson also proved the relation between colors and arousal. Around 20 participants have been exposed to a room covered with green or red. In this study, GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) and conductance level are used to measure the person’s psychological arousal. Wilson discovered that the arousal level is higher in red than green.

The Link between Arousal and Memory

Science has proven that events that have the capacity to arouse the person can increase the memory considerably. When experiencing an arousing event, there are hormonal changes that will occur in our brain that improves memory.

In 2005, Goudsmit and Wolters tried to study the effect of arousing events towards our memory. Participants both elderly citizens and college students were required to answer questions relating to a certain event after 2 weeks and 2 months.

They realized that regardless of the time period, the participants were able to retain an impressive amount of details about the events.

The Relation between Color and Memory

If colors can affect our arousal and arousing events can have impact towards our memory, it might be possible that colors can also have a direct effect towards our memory.

Last 2006, a group of experts have proven that colors can indeed affect our memory. Around 120 participants were asked to look at a series of image that features natural scenery in a gray or colored scale. They realized that the color can increase recognition by at least 5%.

Another research that dwells on the relation between color and memory happened last 1999. McConnohie developed a slideshow that comes with alphanumeric characters.

He showed the slideshow to the participants and asked them to remember the characters. After an hour, he presented the slideshow again but this time the template comes with colors.

He found out that the characters that have white background resulted in a higher retention rate. This is to be expected since the other colors he used were green and blue that belong in cool spectrum and will not have any arousing effect.

While the 1999 study delves more on the connection between colors and memory, size of the sample is somehow small. In addition, this study does not involve the use of the colors on the warm spectrum that makes the result limited.

What Are the Colors that Can Boost Memory?

Based on the study performed at the University of British Columbia, there are specific colors that can help in improving the person’s attention span and concentration.

For the cognitive skills and the improvement of the function of the brain, blue and red would be the most optimal colors. With regards to memory retention, red is still better by about 31%.

Red can also encourage the students to avoid any mistakes. This is probably since red is related with the stop and danger sign.

Students will pay attention when exposed to the red color.  The alertness and their level of attention will make them vigilant.

How to Use the Colors to Improve Your Study

Now that you know that the colors can indeed improve the amount of information that you can retain. you probably want to know how you can use it on your study in order to improve your school performance. Here are some ways to do it.

Using Crayons and Highlighters

Highlighters are not only essential in marking important information in the textbook. They can also play a key role in remembering the information. You can use your highlighter or crayon on your typed notes that will help you improve the retention of important information.

Have an Overview of the Different Colors

If you are planning to incorporate colors in your study, you should already have an accessible representation of colors. This will provide you an idea on how the color will appear on your paper or textbook. This will allow you to choose the color that you prefer. To give you an overview, let us do a recap on the meaning of each color. Understand that the effect of the color can still change depending on your personal experience.

  • Red – vigor, passion, danger, and anger.
  • Green – nature, growth, money, wealth, envy, jealousy, and fertility.
  • Blue – peace and trust
  • Black – death, negativity, power, elegance
  • Purple – royalty, mysticism, wisdom, and spirituality
  • Yellow – intelligence, freshness, clarity, and energy
  • Pink – romance, femininity, and playful
  • Orange – success, freedom, balance, and joy.

Using the Color Theory

Apparently, color theory can help you on color-coding your study. According to this theory, the color found at the opposite side of the color wheel will create a more obvious contrast.

Thus, if you are planning to use orange, you may also mix it with blue. Other contrasting colors are red and blue, yellow or green and navy or dark blue. This will be more effective in highlighting essential details.

Try to Use Only 2 Colors

Stick to only 2 colors especially if you are studying complicated notes. Apart from the color of the text on your note, you should only choose two colors.

This will be enough to put highlight on the important details of your note. You may also assign these two colors depending on the type of information.

For instance, you may use red when highlighting mathematic equation and formula or subtopics while yellow can be used yellow for the definition of the terms. This will make it easier for you to find the information.

Avoid Overdoing Things

If you are using colors for your study, you should avoid overdoing it. Using too many colors can overwhelm you and may distract your brain.

How Our Brains Process Colors

Years ago, scientists believe that the way that our brain process colors is relatively similar with the primates. However, recent studies performed by the neuroscientist of Harvard Medical School revealed that the color processing of the human brain is quite complicated.

By measuring the flow of blood to the different regions of the brain, they realized that or response to colors are far more noteworthy compared to what we originally thought.


The reading capacity of the people with dyslexia will be affected when using a white paper. As a result, this makes it difficult for them to remember the things that they’ve read.

White paper can create a glaring effect that will create a moving text illusion. You can negate the effect of white paper by wearing glasses that have colored tint.

Cool Colors

Colors that are found in the cooler spectrum like green or blue are relaxing. The study notes written on this paper are less-effective due to the relaxing effect. Nonetheless, if you are using the note for creativity, these colors are the better choice.

Warmer Colors

The warm colors have a stimulating effect that makes them memorable. They are highly noticeable that makes our brain react to them automatically. It has also been proven to help us in retaining facts.

Colored or B&W

A lot of studies have been conducted to identify if colored images will be better compared to black and white when it comes to retaining information.

According to studies, people will produce better response towards images that have natural colors. Natural color is more efficient compared to the images that have artificial colors and those that have black and white colors.


While there are numerous studies that explore the reaction of men towards color, we are simply starting to understand how the brains process and react to these colors.

Learning how color affects memory can create a significant change in our life. It can help us enhance our academic performance and greatly improve the quality of our life.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article !