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Isabel Arend, Kenneth Yuen, Nitzan Sagi, Avishai Henik
In synaesthesia, a specific sensory dimension leads to an involuntary sensation in another sensory dimension not commonly associated with it; for example, synaesthetes may experience a specific colour when listening or thinking of numbers or letters. Large-scale behavioural studies provide a rich description of different synaesthesia phenotypes, and a great amount of research has been oriented to uncovering whether a single or multiple brain mechanisms underlie these various synaesthesia phenotypes. Interestingly, most of the synaesthetic inducers are conceptual stimuli such as numbers, letters, and months...
February 7, 2018: Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior
Taylor Chin, Jamie Ward
People with synaesthesia have enhanced memory on a wide range of laboratory tests of episodic memory, but very little is known about their real-world memory. This study used a standard measure of autobiographical remembering (the Autobiographical Memory Questionnaire, AMQ) considering four constructs (Recollection, Belief, Impact and Rehearsal) and two time periods (recent memories from adulthood, remote memories from childhood). Synaesthetes reported more Recollection (e.g., sensory detail) and Belief (e.g...
December 15, 2017: Memory
Sakari Kallio, Mika Koivisto, Johanna K Kaakinen
Are synaesthetic experiences congenital and so hard-wired, or can a functional analogue be created? We induced an equivalent of form-colour synaesthesia using hypnotic suggestions in which symbols in an array (circles, crosses, squares) were suggested always to have a certain colour. In a Stroop type-naming task, three of the four highly hypnotizable participants showed a strong synaesthesia-type association between symbol and colour. This was verified both by their subjective reports and objective eye-movement behaviour...
December 11, 2017: Scientific Reports
Tsvetomira Dumbalska, Rebekah C White, Mihaela D Duta, Kate Nation
Automaticity is a defining characteristic of synaesthesia. Here, we assess for automaticity in stimulus-parity synaesthesia; a subtype that has been documented only 3 times in the literature. Synaesthete R experiences many (nonnumerical) stimuli as being odd or even. She described a toy shape-sorter, which paired odd shapes with even colour slots (and vice versa) and relayed difficulties with the incongruency created by this simple toy. Inspired by this anecdote, we devised a computerised task in which Synaesthete R (and 10 control participants) indicated the location of a target shape, which was presented on a coloured bar...
November 2017: I-Perception
Jamie Ward, Paris Brown, Jasmine Sherwood, Julia Simner
Synaesthesia and autism are two neurodevelopmental conditions that have been shown to co-occur more than expected by chance. The studies reported here test the hypothesis that increased sensory sensitivity and enhanced Attention-to-detail are core cognitive features that are shared between them. In Study 1, we administer self-report measures of sensory sensitivity and autistic traits (the Autism Spectrum Quotient, AQ) to a large heterogeneous sample of synaesthetes. Both sensory sensitivity and the Attention-to-detail subscale of the AQ show a "dose-like" relationship with synaesthesia: namely, more kinds of synaesthesia is related to a greater shift up the autistic spectrum...
October 25, 2017: Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior
Arielle M Levy, Mike J Dixon, Sherif Soliman
Grapheme-colour synaesthesia is a phenomenon in which ordinary black numbers and letters (graphemes) trigger the experience of highly specific colours (photisms). The Synaesthetic Stroop task has been used to demonstrate that graphemes trigger photisms automatically. In the standard Stroop task, congruent trial probability (CTP) has been manipulated to isolate effects of automaticity from higher-order strategic effects, with larger Stroop effects at high CTP attributed to participants strategically attending to the stimulus word to facilitate responding, and smaller Stroop effects at low CTP reflecting automatic word processing...
October 6, 2017: Consciousness and Cognition
Nicolas Rothen, Gergely Bartl, Anna Franklin, Jamie Ward
People with hearing-motion synaesthesia experience sounds from moving or changing (e.g. flickering) visual stimuli. This phenomenon may be one of the most common forms of synaesthesia but it has rarely been studied and there are no studies of its neural basis. We screened for this in a sample of 200+ individuals, and estimated a prevalence of 4.2%. We also document its characteristics: it tends to be induced by physically moving stimuli (more so than static stimuli which imply motion or trigger illusory motion); and the psychoacoustic features are simple (e...
October 2, 2017: Neuropsychologia
Natalie C Bowling, Michael J Banissy
Our capacity to share the experiences of others is a critical part of social behaviour. One process thought to be important for this is vicarious perception. Passively viewing touch activates some of the same network of brain regions as the direct experience of touch. This vicarious experience is usually implicit, but for some people, viewing touch evokes conscious tactile sensations (mirror-touch synaesthesia). Recent work has attempted to induce conscious vicarious touch in those that do not normally experience these sensations, using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)...
October 2017: European Journal of Neuroscience
Julia Simner, Alberta Ipser, Rebecca Smees, James Alvarez
Developmental grapheme-colour synaesthesia is a rare condition in which colours become automatically paired with letters or digits in the minds of certain individuals during childhood, and remain paired into adulthood. Although synaesthesia is well understood in younger adults almost nothing is known about synaesthesia in aging. We present the first evidence that aging desaturates synaesthetic colours in the minds of older synaesthetes, and we show for the first time that aging affects the key diagnostic measure of synaesthesia (consistency of colours over time)...
September 14, 2017: Neuropsychologia
Laura J Speed, Asifa Majid
Olfaction is often considered a vestigial sense in humans, demoted throughout evolution to make way for the dominant sense of vision. This perspective on olfaction is reflected in how we think and talk about smells in the West, with odor imagery and odor language reported to be difficult. In the present study we demonstrate odor cognition is superior in odor-color synaesthesia, where there are additional sensory connections to odor concepts. Synaesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which input in 1 modality leads to involuntary perceptual associations...
August 17, 2017: Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance
Shyla R Hossain, Julia Simner, Alberta Ipser
In this study we show that personality traits predict the physical qualities of mentally generated colours, using the case of synaesthesia. Developmental grapheme-colour synaesthetes have the automatic lifelong association of colours paired to letters or digits. Although these colours are internal mental constructs, they can be measured along physical dimensions such as saturation and luminance. The personality of synaesthetes can also be quantified using self-report questionnaires relating, for example, to the five major traits of Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience...
July 1, 2017: Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior
Jamie Ward, Michael J Banissy
In this reply to the eight commentaries to our article, we discuss three important challenges. First, we discuss the relationship of mirror-touch to other forms of synesthesia. We note that synesthetic experiences are generally not mistaken as veridical but this does not mean that they lack percept-like qualities. We acknowledge that neither Threshold Theory nor Self-Other Theory offer a direct account of other forms of synesthesia, although we discuss how the latter could. Second, we discuss alternative explanations...
June 5, 2017: Cognitive Neuroscience
A Lina Teichmann, Mark R Nieuwenstein, Anina N Rich
For digit-color synaesthetes, digits elicit vivid experiences of color that are highly consistent for each individual. The conscious experience of synaesthesia is typically unidirectional: Digits evoke colors but not vice versa. There is an ongoing debate about whether synaesthetes have a memory advantage over non-synaesthetes. One key question in this debate is whether synaesthetes have a general superiority or whether any benefit is specific to a certain type of material. Here, we focus on immediate serial recall and ask digit-color synaesthetes and controls to memorize digit and color sequences...
April 6, 2017: Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance
Julia Simner, Angela E Bain
Grapheme-colour synaesthesia is characterized by conscious and consistent associations between letters and colours, or between numbers and colours (e.g., synaesthetes might see A as red, 7 as green). Our study explored the development of this condition in a group of randomly sampled child synaesthetes. Two previous studies (Simner & Bain, 2013, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 603; Simner, Harrold, Creed, Monro, & Foulkes, 2009, Brain, 132, 57) had screened over 600 primary school children to find the first randomly sampled cohort of child synaesthetes...
March 29, 2017: British Journal of Psychology
Jamie Ward, Claire Hoadley, James E A Hughes, Paula Smith, Carrie Allison, Simon Baron-Cohen, Julia Simner
Several studies have suggested that there is a link between synaesthesia and autism but the nature of that link remains poorly characterised. The present study considers whether atypical sensory sensitivity may be a common link between the conditions. Sensory hypersensitivity (aversion to certain sounds, touch, etc., or increased ability to make sensory discriminations) and/or hyposensitivity (desire to stimulate the senses , or a reduced response to sensory stimuli are a recently introduced diagnostic feature of autism spectrum conditions (ASC)...
March 7, 2017: Scientific Reports
Isabel Arend, Sarit Ashkenazi, Kenneth Yuen, Shiran Ofir, Avishai Henik
A horizontal mental number line (MNL) is used to describe how quantities are represented across space. In humans, the neural correlates associated with such a representation are found in different areas of the posterior parietal cortex, especially, the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). In a phenomenon known as number-space synaesthesia, individuals visualise numbers in specific spatial locations. The experience of a MNL for number-space synaesthetes is explicit, idiosyncratic, and highly stable over time. It remains an open question whether the mechanisms underlying numerical-spatial association are shared by synaesthetes and nonsynaesthetes...
January 27, 2017: Neuropsychologia
Stephanie C Goodhew, Evan Kidd
Synaesthesia is the neuropsychological phenomenon in which individuals experience unusual sensory associations, such as experiencing particular colours in response to particular words. While it was once thought the particular pairings between stimuli were arbitrary and idiosyncratic to particular synaesthetes, there is now growing evidence for a systematic psycholinguistic basis to the associations. Here we sought to assess the explanatory value of quantifiable lexical association measures (via latent semantic analysis; LSA) in the pairings observed between words and colours in synaesthesia...
February 2017: Acta Psychologica
Marcus R Watson, Jan Chromý, Lyle Crawford, David M Eagleman, James T Enns, Kathleen A Akins
According to one theory, synaesthesia develops, or is preserved, because it helps children learn. If so, it should be more common among adults who faced greater childhood learning challenges. In the largest survey of synaesthesia to date, the incidence of synaesthesia was compared among native speakers of languages with transparent (easier) and opaque (more difficult) orthographies. Contrary to our prediction, native speakers of Czech (transparent) were more likely to be synaesthetes than native speakers of English (opaque)...
February 2017: Consciousness and Cognition
Agnieszka B Janik McErlean, Tirta Susilo, Constantin Rezlescu, Amy Bray, Michael J Banissy
Synaesthesia is a rare phenomenon in which stimulation in one modality (e.g., audition) evokes a secondary percept not associated with the first (e.g., colour). Prior work has suggested links between synaesthesia and other neurodevelopmental conditions that are linked to altered social perception abilities. With this in mind, here we sought to examine social perception abilities in grapheme-colour synaesthesia (where achromatic graphemes evoke colour experiences) by examining facial identity and facial emotion perception in synaesthetes and controls...
October 2016: Cognitive Neuropsychology
Francesca R Farina, Kevin J Mitchell, Richard A P Roche
Synaesthesia is a developmental condition involving cross-communication between sensory modalities or substreams whereby an inducer (e.g. a sound) automatically evokes a concurrent percept in another modality (e.g. a colour). Whether this condition arises due to atypical structural connectivity (e.g., between normally unconnected cortical areas) or altered neurochemistry remains a central question. We report the exceptional cases of two synaesthetes - subjects AB and CD - both of whom experience coloured auras around individuals, as well as coloured perceptions in response to music...
February 2017: European Journal of Neuroscience
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