Adults can be trained to acquire synesthetic experiences

Bor, Daniel, Rothen, Nicolas, Schwartzman, David J, Clayton, Stephanie and Seth, Anil K (2014) Adults can be trained to acquire synesthetic experiences. Scientific Reports, 4 (7089). ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

Synesthesia is a condition where presentation of one perceptual class consistently evokes additional experiences in different perceptual categories. Synesthesia is widely considered a congenital condition, although an alternative view is that it is underpinned by repeated exposure to combined perceptual features at key developmental stages. Here we explore the potential for repeated associative learning to shape and engender synesthetic experiences. Non-synesthetic adult participants engaged in an extensive training regime that involved adaptive memory and reading tasks, designed to reinforce 13 specific letter-color associations. Following training, subjects exhibited a range of standard behavioral and physiological markers for grapheme-color synesthesia; crucially, most also described perceiving color experiences for achromatic letters, inside and outside the lab, where such experiences are usually considered the hallmark of genuine synesthetes. Collectively our results are consistent with developmental accounts of synesthesia and illuminate a previously unsuspected potential for new learning to shape perceptual experience, even in adulthood.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Subjects: Q Science > QZ Psychology
Depositing User: Daniel Bor
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2014 13:44
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2017 05:31
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/51392

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Towards a next-generation computational neuroscienceG0305EPSRC-ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCILEP/G007543/1
Sackler Centre - donationG0951SACKLER-DR MORTIMER AND THERESA SACKLER FOUNDATIONUnset
UnsetUnsetSNSF- Swiss National Science FoundationPBBEP1 133498
UnsetUnsetSNSFPA00P1_145370
CEEDS: The Collective Experience of Empathic Data SystemsG0270EUROPEAN UNIONFP7-ICT-25879