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Full Access Natural correspondences: From ‘weak’ to ‘strong’ synaesthesia

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Natural correspondences: From ‘weak’ to ‘strong’ synaesthesia

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There is a structure to the associations found in people with synaesthesia: for instance, high pitch is small, bright, and high in space. The same correspondences exist in normal multi-sensory associations and manifest themselves implicitly as behavioural facilitation/interference on experimental tasks, and overtly when people are asked to ‘freely’ associate using imagery or metaphor. This has been termed weak synaesthesia; the implication being that it lies on a continuum with synaesthesia itself. In this presentation, I summarise evidence that compares multi-sensory associations from synaesthetes versus others. In addition to highlighting similarities, I also consider ways in which they differ. For instance, I propose that whilst the alignment of these associations is normally relative (e.g., 500 Hz could be bright when compared against 200 Hz but dark when compared against 1000 Hz) it is absolute in synaesthesia itself (i.e., 500 Hz has a non-relative level of brightness). Thus, there is similarity but not continuity between synaesthetes and others.

Affiliations: 1: University of Sussex, GB

There is a structure to the associations found in people with synaesthesia: for instance, high pitch is small, bright, and high in space. The same correspondences exist in normal multi-sensory associations and manifest themselves implicitly as behavioural facilitation/interference on experimental tasks, and overtly when people are asked to ‘freely’ associate using imagery or metaphor. This has been termed weak synaesthesia; the implication being that it lies on a continuum with synaesthesia itself. In this presentation, I summarise evidence that compares multi-sensory associations from synaesthetes versus others. In addition to highlighting similarities, I also consider ways in which they differ. For instance, I propose that whilst the alignment of these associations is normally relative (e.g., 500 Hz could be bright when compared against 200 Hz but dark when compared against 1000 Hz) it is absolute in synaesthesia itself (i.e., 500 Hz has a non-relative level of brightness). Thus, there is similarity but not continuity between synaesthetes and others.

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/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x648503
2012-01-01
2016-12-09

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