Searching for Shereshevskii: What is superior about the memory of synaesthetes?

  title={Searching for Shereshevskii: What is superior about the memory of synaesthetes?},
  author={Caroline Yaro and Jamie Ward},
  journal={Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology},
  pages={681 - 695}
  • Caroline Yaro, J. Ward
  • Published 17 April 2007
  • Biology, Psychology
  • Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Some individuals with superior memory, such as the mnemonist Shereshevskii (Luria, 1968), are known to have synaesthesia. However, the extent to which superior memory is a general characteristic of synaesthesia is unknown, as is the precise cognitive mechanism by which synaesthesia affects memory. This study demonstrates that synaesthetes tend to report subjectively better than average memory and that these reports are borne out with objective testing. Synaesthetes experiencing colours for… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Synesthesia and Memory
Synesthesia provides for a richer world of experience than normal. Th us, synesthesia may lead to additional retrieval cues and, as a consequence, to an advantage in memory tasks. Evidence in favor
Synaesthesia and enhanced memory performance: A review of the literature
The multi-modal sensory integration that is the experience of synaesthesia has often been affiliated with extraordinary abilities in memory as reflected by Luria’s reports of subject “S”, Russian
Grapheme–colour synaesthesia yields an ordinary rather than extraordinary memory advantage: Evidence from a group study
The hypothesis that synaesthesia provides for a richer world of experience and as a consequence additional retrieval cues may be available and beneficial but not to the point of extraordinary memory ability is supported.
Enhanced memory ability: Insights from synaesthesia
A meta-analysis of memory ability in synaesthesia
Synaesthesia occupies a unique position of being the only known neurodevelopmental condition linked to a pervasive enhancement of long-term memory, and the effects of synaesthesia are pervasive, i.e., they extend to all kinds of stimuli, and extend toall kinds of test formats.
People with strong synesthetic perceptions of e.g . colored letters or digits (so-called 'synesthetes') seem to have good memory abilities. Synesthetes report they use their colored letters t o
Synesthesia and memory: color congruency, von Restorff, and false memory effects.
Findings are consistent with the idea that color-grapheme synesthesia can lead people to place a greater emphasis on item-specific processing and surface form characteristics of words in a list relative to relational processing and more meaning-based processes.
A single system account of enhanced recognition memory in synaesthesia
How people with unusual perceptual experiences (synaesthesia) perform on various measures of memory and how computational models of memory may account for their enhanced performance are explored.
Enhanced recognition memory in grapheme-color synaesthesia for different categories of visual stimuli
Recognition memory is generally enhanced in this study, and the largest effects were found for abstract visual images (fractals) and scenes for which color can be used to discriminate old/new status.


When Blue is Larger than Red: Colors Influence Numerical Cognition in Synesthesia
It is shown that colors do implicitly evoke numerical magnitudes in color-grapheme synesthetes, but not in nonsynesthetic participants, and it is proposed that bidirectional co-activation of brain areas is responsible for the links between color and magnitude processing incolor-grapevine synesthesia and that unidirectional models of synesthesia might have to be revised.
Not all synaesthetes are created equal: Projector versus associator synaesthetes
Converging evidence from first-person reports and third-person objective measures of Stroop interference establish the projector/ associator distinction as an important individual difference in grapheme-color synaesthesia.
Synaesthesia: The Prevalence of Atypical Cross-Modal Experiences
The first test of synaesthesia prevalence with sampling that does not rely on self-referral, and which uses objective tests to establish genuineness is presented, and it is suggested that female biases reported earlier likely arose from (or were exaggerated by) sex differences in self-disclosure.
Lexical-gustatory synaesthesia: linguistic and conceptual factors
Coloured Speech Perception: Is Synaesthesia what Happens when Modularity Breaks Down?
A study is presented in which nine subjects were tested who also reported having coloured hearing and confirmed the genuineness of these nine cases of chromatic–lexical synaesthesia, with some consistency found in the colours evoked by hearing specific letters, suggesting the condition has a neurological basis.
Synesthetic Color Experiences Influence Memory
C, a 21-year-old student who experiences synesthetic colors when she sees, hears, or thinks of digits, is described and it is shown that her synesthetic photisms can influence her memory for digits.
A comparison of lexical-gustatory and grapheme-colour synaesthesia
It is argued that different cognitive mechanisms are responsible for the synaesthesia in each group, which may reflect, at least in part, the different geographical locations of the affected perceptual centres in the brain.