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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...
November 28, 2016: European Journal of Neuroscience
J Simner, M K Rehme, D A Carmichael, M E Bastin, E Sprooten, A M McIntosh, S M Lawrie, M Zedler
Judgments about personalities and social traits can be made by relatively brief exposure to animate living things. Here we show that unusual architecture in the microstructure of the human brain is related to atypical mental projections of personality and social structure onto things that are neither living nor animate. Our participants experience automatic, life-long and consistent crossmodal associations between language sequences (e.g., letters, numbers and days) and complex personifications (e.g., A is a businessman; 7 a good-natured woman)...
August 20, 2016: Neuropsychologia
V S Ramachandran, C Chunharas, Z Marcus
We propose a hypothesis concerning the neural basis of the mental 'calendar' we all carry around in our brains, based on observations we made on a 25year old 'projector synaesthete', EA, who displays some novel and instructive features. In addition to her grapheme-color synaesthesia, she has a circular 'calendar line', laid out vividly in front of her in the horizontal plane with December 31st passing through the middle of her chest and other months arranged in clockwise sequence ending with December on her right (July was 3 feet in front of her)...
September 2016: Medical Hypotheses
Simon Baron-Cohen, Emma Robson, Meng-Chuan Lai, Carrie Allison
Research has linked Mirror-Touch (MT) synaesthesia with enhanced empathy. We test the largest sample of MT synaesthetes to date to examine two claims that have been previously made: that MT synaesthetes (1) have superior empathy; and (2) only ever experience their MT synaesthesia in response to viewing a person being touched. Given that autism has been suggested to involve deficits in cognitive empathy, we also test two predictions: that MT synaesthetes should (3) be less likely than general population individuals without MT synaesthesia to have an autism spectrum condition (ASC), if MT is characterized by superior empathy; and (4) have fewer autistic traits...
2016: PloS One
Oren Shriki, Yaniv Sadeh, Jamie Ward
Synaesthesia is an unusual perceptual experience in which an inducer stimulus triggers a percept in a different domain in addition to its own. To explore the conditions under which synaesthesia evolves, we studied a neuronal network model that represents two recurrently connected neural systems. The interactions in the network evolve according to learning rules that optimize sensory sensitivity. We demonstrate several scenarios, such as sensory deprivation or heightened plasticity, under which synaesthesia can evolve even though the inputs to the two systems are statistically independent and the initial cross-talk interactions are zero...
July 2016: PLoS Computational Biology
Jamie Ward, Nicolas Rothen, Acer Chang, Ryota Kanai
This study considers how inter-individual differences in visual ability are structured. Visual ability could be a single entity (along the lines of general intelligence, or 'g'), or could be structured according to major anatomical or physiological pathways (dorsal v. ventral streams; magno- v. parvo-cellular systems); or may be a finer-grained mosaic of abilities. To test this, we employed seven visual psychophysical tests (generating 16 measures) on a large (100+) sample of neurotypical participants. A Varimax-rotated PCA (Principal Component Analysis) revealed a two-factor solution that broadly corresponds to a high and low spatial frequency division (consistent with a magno/parvo distinction)...
June 29, 2016: Vision Research
Tessa M van Leeuwen, Sina A Trautmann-Lengsfeld, Mark T Wallace, Andreas K Engel, Micah M Murray
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
July 29, 2016: Neuropsychologia
Shenbing Kuang
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
2016: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Cassandra D Gould van Praag, Sarah Garfinkel, Jamie Ward, Daniel Bor, Anil K Seth
In grapheme-colour synaesthesia (GCS), the presentation of letters or numbers induces an additional 'concurrent' experience of colour. Early functional MRI (fMRI) investigations of GCS reported activation in colour-selective area V4 during the concurrent experience. However, others have failed to replicate this key finding. We reasoned that individual differences in synaesthetic phenomenology might explain this inconsistency in the literature. To test this hypothesis, we examined fMRI BOLD responses in a group of grapheme-colour synaesthetes (n=20) and matched controls (n=20) while characterising the individual phenomenology of the synaesthetes along dimensions of 'automaticity' and 'localisation'...
July 29, 2016: Neuropsychologia
Devin B Terhune, David P Luke, Mendel Kaelen, Mark Bolstridge, Amanda Feilding, David Nutt, Robin Carhart-Harris, Jamie Ward
The induction of synaesthesia in non-synaesthetes has the potential to illuminate the mechanisms that contribute to the development of this condition and the shaping of its phenomenology. Previous research suggests that lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) reliably induces synaesthesia-like experiences in non-synaesthetes. However, these studies suffer from a number of methodological limitations including lack of a placebo control and the absence of rigorous measures used to test established criteria for genuine synaesthesia...
July 29, 2016: Neuropsychologia
Agnieszka B Janik McErlean, Michael J Banissy
Synaesthesia is a condition in which one property of a stimulus triggers a secondary experience not typically associated with the first (e.g., seeing achromatic graphemes can evoke the perception of color). Recent work has explored a variety of cognitive and perceptual traits associated with synaesthesia. One example is in the domain of personality, where higher rates of positive schizotypy and openness to experience and lower agreeableness have been reported in synaesthetes who experience color as their evoked sensation relative to typical adult controls...
2016: Frontiers in Psychology
Jennifer L Mankin, Christopher Thompson, Holly P Branigan, Julia Simner
This study used grapheme-colour synaesthesia, a neurological condition where letters evoke a strong and consistent impression of colour, as a tool to investigate normal language processing. For two sets of compound words varying by lexical frequency (e.g., football vs lifevest) or semantic transparency (e.g., flagpole vs magpie), we asked 19 grapheme-colour synaesthetes to choose their dominant synaesthetic colour using an online colour palette. Synaesthetes could then select a second synaesthetic colour for each word if they experienced one...
May 2016: Cognition
Marie de Guzman, Geoffrey Bird, Michael J Banissy, Caroline Catmur
We review the evidence that an ability to achieve a precise balance between representing the self and representing other people is crucial in social interaction. This ability is required for imitation, perspective-taking, theory of mind and empathy; and disruption to this ability may contribute to the symptoms of clinical and sub-clinical conditions, including autism spectrum disorder and mirror-touch synaesthesia. Moving beyond correlational approaches, a recent intervention study demonstrated that training participants to control representations of the self and others improves their ability to control imitative behaviour, and to take another's visual perspective...
January 19, 2016: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Jennifer Mankin
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
October 2015: Perception
Maria Cristina Cioffi, Michael J Banissy, James W Moore
Mirror-touch synaesthesia (MTS) is a condition that leads people to experience tactile sensations on their own body when watching at someone else being touched. Recent accounts postulate that MTS is linked with atypical self-other representations. It has been suggested that this may be associated with disturbances in two main components of self-awareness: sense of agency and sense of ownership. This study investigates changes in sense of agency and sense of ownership in MTS. Using a paradigm that deliberately blurs the boundaries between the self and the other, we not only found that MTS affects sense of agency and sense of ownership, but that these aspects of self-awareness are affected differently...
January 2016: Cognition
Ophelia Deroy, Charles Spence
The question of whether the mechanisms underlying synaesthesia are similar to those ones underlying widespread cases of multisensory interactions tends to overshadow the question of whether their manifestations can be thought of as being continuous with one another. Here we focus on the conscious manifestations of synaesthesia and crossmodal correspondences and consider the dimensions along which these could be organised on a continuum. While synaesthesia and crossmodal correspondences may differ regarding the degree of vividness, frequency, specificity of the conscious manifestation, and control over its content, we demonstrate that these dimensions fail to lead to the expected continuous distribution...
July 29, 2016: Neuropsychologia
Fiona N Newell, Kevin J Mitchell
Recent research into synaesthesia has highlighted the role of learning, yet synaesthesia is clearly a genetic condition. Here we ask how can the idea that synaesthesia reflects innate, genetic differences be reconciled with models that suggest it is driven by learning. A number of lines of evidence suggest that synaesthesia relies on, or at least interacts with, processes of multisensory integration that are common across all people. These include multisensory activations that arise in early regions of the brain as well as feedback from longer-term cross-modal associations generated in memory...
July 29, 2016: Neuropsychologia
Idalmis Santiesteban, Geoffrey Bird, Oliver Tew, Maria Cristina Cioffi, Michael J Banissy
Individuals with mirror touch synaesthesia (MTS) experience touch on their own body when observing others being touched. A recent account proposes that such rare experiences could be linked to impairment in self-other representations. Here we tested participants with MTS on a battery of social cognition tests and found that compared to non-synaesthete controls, the MTS group showed impairment in imitation-inhibition but not in visual perspective taking or theory of mind. Although all of these socio-cognitive abilities rely on the control of self-other representations, they differ as to whether the self, or the other, should be preferentially represented...
October 2015: Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior
Donald F Weaver, Cassandra L A Hawco
BACKGROUND: Synaesthesia is a neurological condition which manifests clinically as an involuntary experience of a sensory or cognitive pathway upon stimulation of a second unrelated sensory or cognitive pathway CASE PRESENTATION: We report a 55 year old male who presented with a life-long history of grapheme-colour synaesthesia in which the triggering grapheme was the double letter 'll' (a geminate consonant), but not 'l' as a single letter. This patient's synaesthesia was also font specific (becoming more evident with serif fonts) and influenced by migraine headache (being suppressed during the prodrome and aura of a migraine headache) CONCLUSION: These results suggest that geminate consonants are uniquely processed rather than treated as two individual consonants...
2015: BMC Neurology
B G Slocombe, D A Carmichael, J Simner
Detecting the taste components within a flavoured substance relies on exposing chemoreceptors within the mouth to the chemical components of ingested food. In our paper, we show that the evaluation of taste components can also be influenced by the tactile quality of the food. We first discuss how multisensory factors might influence taste, flavour and smell for both typical and atypical (synaesthetic) populations and we then present two empirical studies showing tactile-taste interactions in the general population...
July 29, 2016: Neuropsychologia
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