Mental Health

Sight Goes Gray When You're Feeling Blue

Christine Hsu
September 03, 2015 05:41 PM EDT

Feeling blue messes up the way you perceive color, according to a new study.

Researchers found evidence that emotion can actually influence the way we see color.

"Our results show that mood and emotion can affect how we see the world around us," psychology researcher Christopher Thorstenson of the University of Rochester, first author on the research, said in a news release. "Our work advances the study of perception by showing that sadness specifically impairs basic visual processes that are involved in perceiving color."

Researchers found that depression made things seem more gray by impairing our ability to correctly identify colors on the blue-yellow axis.

"We were surprised by how specific the effect was, that color was only impaired along the blue-yellow axis," says Thorstenson. "We did not predict this specific finding, although it might give us a clue to the reason for the effect in neurotransmitter functioning."

"This is new work and we need to take time to determine the robustness and generalizability of this phenomenon before making links to application," he concluded.

The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.