The Role of Color in Memorizing Operations


Memory is involved in processing information in the mind, and its performance can be enhanced. Color is among the many variables that give rise to memorizing operations, and so it is a significant visual experience to humans. This makes colored images to be a powerful information conduit to the mental systems of humans and is important in boosting memory performance. They are very effective in communication, marketing, educational settings, and even in sports. Color can increase the influence an organization has on people in marketing since it attracts their attention thus increasing brand recognition. Color is therefore important in making information attractive and helps in enhancing memory. Color can be used in schools to realize excellent academic achievement since it enables learners to maximumly utilize their cognitive abilities making them easily pay attention and understand lessons (Lev-Ari, 2021). This is so since it motivates students to learn and benefit from their experience in education. Color has a part to play in enhancing memory performance and better attention.

The Problem Under Study

Many studies have proposed that things made of color tend to be easily recognizable and remembered due to the effect they cause on the human mind. Tablet screens, for instance, contain many colors thus their design causes an effect on the performance of users (Lev-Ari, 2021). After conducting a series of experiments, psychologists realized that color has the ability to enhance a person’s visual memory and that people are more likely to remember colored images and backgrounds than non-colored ones. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how color images and background color make a significant difference in human memory.

Background To the Problem and Need for The Study Based on Current Research

Recognizing objects needs memory and perception in real life and so perceptual and memory processes need to be studied as a joint entity. This helps in avoiding errors since real-world tasks need such understanding. There is a relationship between attention and memory since when people focus on certain information, it means that they are selecting it to be processed in their cognitive system. The amount of attention attached to a particular item increases the chances of it being stored in memory. Color is one of the things that draws the attention of people so it increases attention levels thereby increasing the likelihood of remembering information. Several studies have revealed that attention brought about by color can increase memory performance. A study was conducted comparing color and non-color presentations on memory performance and results revealed that colored ones resulted in better attention with red, yellow, and orange colors having a greater effect (Saiki, 2019). Based on current research, this study is needed to determine how exactly color contributes to attention and the contribution image color and background color makes to affecting memory.

Review Of Literature

Color has a substantial impact on memory performance by bettering levels of attention. There are many pieces of evidence from various studies conducted that examine the connection between color and memory. Babilon and Khanh examined the capability to identify colored and non-colors images of unbiased scenes (2020). Results revealed that the recognition of colored ones in participants was 5% higher than that in the grayscale condition. Persaud et al. had a similar finding when they conducted a study to examine the influence of color on memory using digit numbers with different color conditions including white, black, similar to using undergraduates as participants (2021). The participants were given three minutes to observe the numbers through a computer screen and at the same time to recall the stimuli. Significant differences were realized between memory conditions.

Saiki identified a clear benefit of both background and image color on memory. He tested the ability to recognize colors in their participants while conducting his first experiment. Better memory performance was reported on colored conditions over the grayscale condition. He used the same images but different contrast levels in his second experiment and better memory recognition were seen in images with higher contrast levels since they are easily visible. The same procedure was used in his third experimentation although the participants were tested using diverse conditions. Those who were exposed to colored frames had an improvement in their memory condition by 3% than those in black and white frames (2019).

Valenti and Firestone researched to investigate the effect of color on implicit and explicit memory. They came up with a hypothesis in which they anticipated a short response time for colored stimuli and a longer time for gray scaled ones. They used 30 colored and 30 non-colored objects in the study and asked participants to identify objects with non-color, same color, and change color categories. After the test, a significant effect was seen on colored objects as participants took a shorter time to identify them (2019). The above studies show that color has a significant difference in memory. There are however a few other studies that have opposing findings.

Ji et al. conducted research on the effect of color on memorization and recognition of objects and realized that there are differences when comes to spatial integration and separation in objects. The study used two hundred and eleven non-color-blind participants with 75 colored objects as stimuli. The objects had three conditions; correctly, incorrectly, and grayscale-colored conditions. For the spatial integration experiment, colored objects were placed in a non-color background while for spatial separation, black and white stimuli were placed on a colored background. A 7-point scale was used by participants to rate typicality and was required to press some buttons to show if the objects were colored properly or not as the response speed was measured. From the results obtained, there was a substantial impact of color with higher ratings for spatial integration than for separation. There were shorter response times for those colored correctly in spatial integration unlike in those that were spatially separated. From this, it can be seen that colored objects and grayscale backgrounds have better recognition and memory and a faster response time than those in a colored background.

Another study by Olkkonen utilized black alphanumeric characters and displayed using a presentation with white, green, and blue color conditions to participants (2019). From his finding, the slides with a white background caused higher memory retention in participants than those with green and blue backgrounds. Results from this study is a contradiction to the aforementioned studies since it reveals that only certain colors contribute to better memory. However, a significant effect of color on memory can still be seen.

Brain Structures

Memories are stored in different parts of the brain depending on their types, either explicit or implicit. This paper focuses on explicit memory which is brought about by events happening around someone and information. This memory, therefore, taps into the amygdala, hippocampus, and neocortex which are structures in the brain. The hippocampus is located in the temporal lobe that forms episodic memories and indexes them for later access. The neocortex is mainly involved in spatial reasoning and stores information in form of knowledge and helps the brain determine color among other things. Amygdala attaches emotional worth to memories and makes it difficult to forget.

Research done by Pate et al. has shown effects on memory when the temporal lobe is interfered with. (2017) A certain patient had this part of the brain removed due to epilepsy and as a result, he had a profound forgetfulness of the things he saw in the background. Findings reveal that memory is a separate function from other cognitive abilities. From his study, he concluded that the hippocampus is essential for forming memories after learning and has a role in memory retrieval. Another study revealed that the amygdala has a modulatory influence on indicative and non-indicative memory causing things like color to be typically remembered (Perez, 2018). Volunteers rated their memory of distressing scenes and after two weeks, they gauged their ability to remember. When activities in the amygdala increased, the ratings were high and this resulted in improved accuracy on their memories.

Theoretical Foundation

Image Color

Human memory is both long-term and short-term as proposed by early investigators who formed theoretical models around it. Waugh and Norman proposed a theory referred to as the behavioral model of memory. This was so since it had to quantify the properties of the main memory. Atkinson and Shiffrin are researchers who extended this model to form a model that contained the sensory register, long term, and short-term store. The philosophy proposed that environmental stimuli start with getting to the sensory register store which can store extensive information although is retained for a very short time. They claimed that information that needs attention is moved to the short-term store then later on transferred to the long-term store due to some control processes for lasting storage. Image color was one of these control processes that enabled memorization which further led to information transfer to long-term store.

Background Color

Craik and Lockhart proposed an alternative model of memory that suggests that processes involved in memory are of more importance than the memory system structure (Campoleoni et al., 2019). The processes are presumed to range from shallow to deeper semantic processes. The shallow one is associated with basic analysis of information while the deeper process needs some level of recognition and bottomless processing since this contributes to a lasting memory. From the model, information is stored in the long-term store due to the level of processing and analysis done on the input received from the environment (Campoleoni et al., 2019). The background color is capable of activating attention that can be used in deeper processing for better remembrance. It therefore can influence attention that contributes to control processes which then help in enhancing memory performance.

The Connection Between Past Research and Current Research.

After analyzing various literature, it is seen that some past researches are supporting this research while others conflict with it. As mentioned in the literature review section, several studies and experiments have been done to show how color affects memory. Many of them show that color, both image, and background, has a significant effect on people’s memory. They reveal that people tend to remember easily objects that are colored while easily forgetting about the non-colored ones. Some past studies however showed conflicting evidence with one stating that memorization is based on the spatial integration and separation of colors (Ji et al., 2019). From it, it was found that objects in non-color backgrounds are easily recognizable than those in a colored background. Another study done on alphanumeric characters revealed that only certain colors contribute to memory (Olkkonen, 2019).

The Current Study and Rationale

The current study examines why colored images are more likely to be recognized than non-colored images when both are in the same background. The purpose of the present study, therefore, is to identify how the color of the image and the background significantly affect memory. The study has memory as its dependent variable since it is the one being tested. The independent variables are two; image color and background color and are only manipulated by researchers.


From the results obtained in related literature, I hypothesize that color images on colored backgrounds are more likely to be recognized than non-color images on the same background. Results from this study will show an increased recognition and memory in colored images within a colored background. Furthermore, the poorest memory will be found with red and green backgrounds containing grayscale images. The attention drawn by the background color and image color will allow a significant difference in memory. Scenarios that lack image and background color draw less attention hence resulting in a lower memory score.


Babilon, S., & Khanh, T. Q. (2020). Impact of the adapted white point and the cultural background on memory color assessments. Color Research & Application, 45(5), 803-824. Web.

Campoleoni, A., Francia, D., & Heissenberg, C. (2019). Electromagnetic and color memory in even dimensions. Physical Review D, 100(8), 085015. Web.

Ji, C., Chen, M., & Wu, L. (2021). Patternable and Rewritable Retroreflective Structural Color Shape Memory Polymers. Advanced Optical Materials, 9(19), 2100739. Web.

Lev-Ari, S. (2021). Richer color vocabulary is correlated with color memory, but its relation to perception is unknown. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(10). Web.

Olkkonen, M. (2019). Learning and memory in color perception. Journal of Vision, 19(15), 5-5. Web.

Pate, M., Raclariu, A. M., & Strominger, A. (2017). Color memory: a Yang-Mills analog of gravitational wave memory. Physical review letters, 119(26), 261602. Web.

Perez, J. J. (2018). Short Term Memory and Color. Celebrating Scholarship and Creativity Day. Web.

Persaud, K., Macias, C., Hemmer, P., & Bonawitz, E. (2021). Evaluating recall error in preschoolers: Category expectations influence episodic memory for color. Cognitive Psychology, 124, 101357. Web.

Saiki, J. (2019). Robust color-shape binding representations for multiple objects in visual working memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 148(5), 905. Web.

Valenti, J. J., & Firestone, C. (2019). Finding the “odd one out”: Memory color effects and the logic of appearance. Cognition, 191, 103934. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "The Role of Color in Memorizing Operations." September 19, 2023.

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PsychologyWriting. "The Role of Color in Memorizing Operations." September 19, 2023.