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Full Access The neural basis of different types of synesthesia

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The neural basis of different types of synesthesia

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The condition synesthesia offers an extraordinary opportunity to study mechanisms involved in (hyper)-binding across different modalities. Currently, the majority of synesthesia research is aimed at a few types of synesthesia; colors evoked by written or spoken language and spatial arrangements evoked by sequential concepts. We do not yet know whether the processes involved in multisensory binding are similar or different across different types of synesthesia. In this project, brain structure measurements (connectivity and volume) were obtained from a large group of subjects (over 350 individuals). Furthermore, the subjects were presented with an extensive synesthesia questionnaire. In this subject group, different types of synesthetes were present; the inducers and concurrent ranged across perceptual modalities (e.g., visual, auditory, taste, tactile) but also involved non-sensory concepts (e.g., ‘personality’). This allows studying which of the previously obtained white-matter and grey-matter differences in synesthesia are specific to that (i.e., linguistic–color) type of synesthesia, and which are related more generally to having synesthesia. Furthermore, it allows examining whether synesthetes are, as a group, categorically different from all non-synesthetic subjects. Alternatively, each synesthete is only different from a non-synesthete in the binding of his or her specific inducer to his or her specific concurrent.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The condition synesthesia offers an extraordinary opportunity to study mechanisms involved in (hyper)-binding across different modalities. Currently, the majority of synesthesia research is aimed at a few types of synesthesia; colors evoked by written or spoken language and spatial arrangements evoked by sequential concepts. We do not yet know whether the processes involved in multisensory binding are similar or different across different types of synesthesia. In this project, brain structure measurements (connectivity and volume) were obtained from a large group of subjects (over 350 individuals). Furthermore, the subjects were presented with an extensive synesthesia questionnaire. In this subject group, different types of synesthetes were present; the inducers and concurrent ranged across perceptual modalities (e.g., visual, auditory, taste, tactile) but also involved non-sensory concepts (e.g., ‘personality’). This allows studying which of the previously obtained white-matter and grey-matter differences in synesthesia are specific to that (i.e., linguistic–color) type of synesthesia, and which are related more generally to having synesthesia. Furthermore, it allows examining whether synesthetes are, as a group, categorically different from all non-synesthetic subjects. Alternatively, each synesthete is only different from a non-synesthete in the binding of his or her specific inducer to his or her specific concurrent.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134808-000s0027
2013-05-16
2016-12-08

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