Neurophysiological analyses in different color environments of cognitive function in patients with traumatic brain injury

J Neurotrauma. 2010 Sep;27(9):1577-84. doi: 10.1089/neu.2009.1119.


Colors are thought to elicit various emotional effects. Red, with its high likelihood of attracting attention, is considered to have an exciting, active effect; whereas green, with its low attention value, is considered to have a relaxing, sedative effect. Colors are also thought to affect human cognition and emotion. However, there have been few studies of the influence of colors in one's surroundings (e.g., the color environment and its effect on cognitive function). In this study, we investigated the influence of differences in color environments (red, green, or darkness) on cognitive function by analyzing the P300 component of event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by oddball visual paradigms as a measure of cognitive characteristics in patients who had sustained traumatic brain injury (TBI). In 18 patients with TBI and 18 age-matched control subjects, ERPs were recorded in response to photographs of crying babies. We found that P300 amplitudes in the red environment were significantly larger in controls than in TBI patients, while those in both the green environment and darkness showed no difference between controls and patients. P300 latencies in the red environment and in darkness were significantly longer in patients than in controls. P300 latency in the red environment was significantly shorter than that in darkness. However, P300 latency in the green environment showed no difference between controls and patients. In healthy individuals, the emotional effects of the red environment enhanced cognitive function. In patients with TBI, however, cognitive function was reduced in the red environment. Furthermore, P300 amplitude and latency were strongly correlated with the time on the Trail Making Test (TMT), and the value of the intelligence quotient of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III (WAIS-III). These findings suggest that P300 amplitude and latency are useful indexes for the evaluation of TBI patients, and that color environments affect cognitive function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Color
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Environment*
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Young Adult