Thesis Abstract: Combination literary review and study investigates the biological mechanics and history of color perception as a method of communication and behavioral direction. Hypothesizing that pre-cortical ganglion interference is linked to existing color pedagogy, the study at hand found significant correlation between firing rates of S, M & L hetero-linked ganglion cells and concepts of color geometry as developed from the work of Johannes Itten. Literature review examines how relationships between colors have been leveraged to provide context, guide interaction, and convey meaning. Thus, we suggest a link between the biological tools used to perceive color and the array of eventual effects documented in literature.
My thesis for my combined BA in graphic design and cognitive psychology consisted of two parts: 1) a literature review, primarily concerned with investigating the role color plays in guiding interaction with visual media (be it user interface, print, or applied design) and, 2) a study aimed at examining the correlation between color geometry and one specific biological mechanism fundamental to the perceptive process. The review discusses how color is used to produce effective interaction, with studies suggesting that while individual colors are inherently coded with information— a concept often covered in design fundamentals— their interaction, combination, and interference produce consistent effects that are highly effective at conveying meaning. The study I undertook used single-unit recording of hetero-linked ganglion cells in animal retina to establish a correlation between SML color interference and the sort of color geometry derived from the work of Johannes Itten. Ganglion cells sit in between cone photoreceptors in the eye and the myelinated neurons responsible for transmitting visual data to the brain. They are effectively responsible for a great deal of the color separation the eye makes and for some of the inferential ‘leaps’ performed in the perceptive process. Hetero-linked ganglion cells, which connect two or more L, M, or S-type neurons (which respond to Red, Green, and Blue photo stimulation, respectively), average input between colors, providing a biological base for the notion of ‘opposing’ colors, and set the stage for pre-cortical perception of basic color relationships. External validity in the study was limited to its inter-species nature, but previous literature suggested strong correlation between firing patterns in human and animal ganglia, allowing for the necessary applicability. The project as a whole allowed me to suggest that there is a biological underpinning to color relationships and that these relationships have enormous value in their design based and practical application.