OBJECTIVES: It is well known that colour exposure can influence emotions, behaviour and perception. To get further insight into these complex synesthetic phenomena, the effect of colour stimulation on auditory and somatosensory perception was systematically investigated.
METHODS: 14 healthy male volunteers with normal colour vision rated the loudness of auditory stimuli with a standardized scale during exposure to white, red and green light. Furthermore temperature perception was assessed during exposure of the different colours using a thermal sensory analyser.
RESULTS: Colour exposure significantly altered auditory and somatosensory perception. Red light enhanced loudness perception and decreased cold pain thresholds, while green light stimulation reduced loudness perception and increased detection and pain thresholds for warm stimuli.
CONCLUSIONS: This data give further evidence for cross-modal plasticity in human perception. Colour stimulation influences auditory and somatosensory perception and may therefore have potential as a new treatment strategy of phantom perceptions such as tinnitus or chronic pain.