Adults Can Be Trained to Acquire Synesthetic Experiences

Bor, Daniel; Rothen, Nicolas; Schwartzman, David J.; Clayton, Stephanie; Seth, Anil K. (2014). Adults Can Be Trained to Acquire Synesthetic Experiences. Scientific Reports, 4(7089), p. 7089. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/srep07089

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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: Journal Article (Original Article)
Division/Institute: 07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Experimental Psychology and Neuropsychology
UniBE Contributor: Rothen, Nicolas
Subjects: 100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
ISSN: 2045-2322
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Language: English
Submitter: Nicolas Rothen
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2016 12:16
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2016 02:11
Publisher DOI: 10.1038/srep07089
PubMed ID: 25404369
BORIS DOI: 10.7892/boris.75975

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