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Autonomic Nervous System

Autonomic Nervous System

How do colors affect us? The psychological effects of colors.

From the moment of our birth, colors become an all-surrounding phenomenon. They are an objective and direct force of influence brought to life through our nervous system. Or so to say, the “back-end” processes of our brain are in a constant adjustment in the effort to adapt to the current surroundings.

Autonomic Nervous System

There are beliefs that the relation between person and color are caused in their entirety by historical traditions and customs. Believers of the sociocultural approach in explaining the effects of colors are actively rejecting the idea of their influence on the mentality. Such an event-related meanings of colors and associations should be recognized and studied in depth.

An interesting theory overall, however, the leading factor in the formation of color values ​​is the unique perception people have of light. This question of origin was a mystery for thousands of years. A pattern of realisations and statements regarding colors is drawn in human history.

And although our vision was studied long before the development of neurology, it was not until the XX century when the broad research in psychophysiology and psychology gave us the data on the effect of colors on our nervous system.

Light and color have a powerful effect on the formation of the physiological status of the human body. This influence, first of all, is mediated by the activity of the autonomic nervous system, its sympathetic and parasympathetic departments - SNS and PNS.

A transition from darkness to light sees a decrease in the pulse rate and an increase in blood pressure, taste, tactile sensitivity and auditory sensitivity under the influence of lighting.

The highlight of the numerous experiments on the connection of vision with other sensory organs was the identification of a relationship between seeing colors and the autonomic nervous system, as well as, the hypothalamus, which plays an integral role in the activity of the physiological and mental functions of our organism.

Proceeding from the above, a number of “positive” and “negative” values ​​of colors become understandable on a psychophysiological level.

Sympathetic Nervous System

It is believed the SNS is responsible for our behavior on a psychophysiological level according to the types of fight or flight. Activation of the SNS leads to pupil dilating, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure. The motility of the intestinal-acorn system weakens, leading to a slowdown on the digestive functions. Breathing intensifies, while the concentration of glucose and fatty acids increases in the blood. All the above, just to provide the necessary body stimulation, so you can fight or flee.

Red and yellow, as stimulants, justify their traditional characteristics of colors of the “active side”. In these colors, a person who is well rested and with restored strength becomes in dire need of intensive activity. A way to release this manifestation of energy. Long-term exposure to these colors can lead to overexcitation or even anxiety.

When overwhelmed by the SNS, a further increase in its activation, promoted by red and yellow, can lead to distress, disruption of homeostasis and therefore the sensitivity of the eye to these colors decreases. As if we just don’t notice them anymore.

If presented with blue and green, they will have a retarding effect on the SNS and contribute to the restoration of balance.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

When the prevailing activity is that of the PNS, the opposite process occurs and the body conditions are adjusted for rest and recovery. The general nature of parasympathetic activation is similar to the state of rest occuring after a healthy meal. The blood flow to the digestive tract increases, the heart rate decreases the pupils narrow, and so on.

So blue, and to some extent green, justify their characteristics, as relaxing, soothing, and therefore especially preferred by people in need of relaxation and rest. However, it is undesirable to allow for a long-run PNS dominance. This will reduce your body’s readiness to act. The prolonged exposure to these colors leads to inhibition and even depression, causing an impression of something sad and boring.

Sympathetic and parasympathetic departments are among themselves in reciprocal relationships, providing both homeostasis and adaptation to external influences.

Colors lead to certain changes in the work of the nervous system, and in turn, this change in the tone of the autonomic nervous system affects our perception of colors.

Stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system increases sensitivity to the blue-green part of the spectrum and reduces that to the red-yellow.

Alternatively, parasympathetic agents improve our sensitivity to red and yellow and reduce that of the blue and green segment.

It follows that the sensitivity of the eye to the red-yellow and blue-green parts of the spectrum is reciprocal, similar to the reciprocal relationships of the SNS and PNS.

The nature of the interrelationships of color perception with the activity of the autonomic nervous system, allows us to draw a conclusion about the objective need of the latter in color stimuli and its self-regulation. Thus, the balance of the two sections of the autonomic nervous system is maintained.

The nature of the relationship between white and black in regards to the activity of the ANS is quite similar. White stimulates the ergotropic system of the organism and black stimulates the trophotropic system. Activation of the PNS increases the “need” in white, and the SNS - in black. After an active, busy and eventful day (white), comes the time for restoration and relaxation during the night (black).

If lead-blue tones prevail in the morning and nature predominates, it is very difficult to tune in for active work. A person can easily fall into a passive, drowsy state and keep it for a long time. On the other hand, a bright and sunny morning contributes to a rapid transition from sleep to wakefulness. An achievement of the necessary level of activity.

Certain nuances are possible depending on the specific phases in the activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic departments. The nature and impact of light and color on the human nervous system are mediated by its individual reactivity, both during the day and for an extended period of time.