Synesthesia and learning: a critical review and novel theory

  title={Synesthesia and learning: a critical review and novel theory},
  author={Marcus R. Watson and Kathleen Akins and Christina M. Spiker and Lyle Crawford and James T. Enns},
  journal={Frontiers in Human Neuroscience},
Learning and synesthesia are profoundly interconnected. On the one hand, the development of synesthesia is clearly influenced by learning. Synesthetic inducers – the stimuli that evoke these unusual experiences – often involve the perception of complex properties learned in early childhood, e.g., letters, musical notes, numbers, months of the year, and even swimming strokes. Further, recent research has shown that the associations individual synesthetes make with these learned inducers are not… 
Synesthesia and its Cognitive Correlates
Results showed that synesthetes performed significantly worse than controls on the Wisconsin Card Sorting task, a measure of psychological flexibility and perseveration, but not on the Stroop, Simon or Flanker tasks (measures of attention and inhibition) or the digit span task (a measure of memory).
Reduced perceptual narrowing in synesthesia
The consistent superiority of the synesthetic groups in making discriminations that are normally eliminated during infancy suggests that residual cortical connectivity in synesthesia supports changes in perception that extend beyond the specific synesthetic percepts, consistent with the incomplete pruning hypothesis.
Synesthesia vs. crossmodal illusions
We can discern two opposing viewpoints regarding synesthesia. According to the first, it is an oddity, an outlier, or a disordered condition. According to the second, synesthesia is pervasive,
Developing synaesthesia: a primer
Synaesthesia is a variation of human experience that involves the automatic activation of unusual concurrent experiences in response to ordinary inducing stimuli. The causes for the development of
Explicit Associative Learning and Memory in Synesthetes and Nonsynesthetes
The hypothesis that synesthetes have exceptional associative learning abilities is supported and it is specified that this advantage pertains to the initial learning rate and long-term retention of associations.
Multisensory integration and cross-modal learning in synaesthesia: A unifying model
Semantic mechanisms may be responsible for developing synesthesia
The present analysis suggests that synesthesia develops during childhood and is being enriched further throughout the synesthetes’ lifetime; for example, the already existing concurrents may be adopted by novel inducers or new concurrents might be formed.
The Development and Acquisition of synesthesia
: Synaesthesia seems to have a genetic basis and runs in families, the genetic predisposition play a important role in determining synesthesia, but it doesn’t mean that the gene is the only factor to


Attention, Automaticity, and Awareness in Synesthesia
  • J. Mattingley
  • Art, Psychology
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
  • 2009
A cognitive neuroscience perspective on the condition, with a particular emphasis on grapheme‐color synesthesia, the most common variant, in which individuals report vivid and consistent experiences of color in association with numerals, letters, and words is provided.
Learning, Memory, and Synesthesia
These are the first and only data to show learned synesthesia of this kind in more than a single individual and indicate that a complete explanation of synesthesia must also incorporate a central role for learning and memory.
Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses
For decades, scientists who heard about synesthesia hearing colors, tasting words, seeing colored pain just shrugged their shoulders or rolled their eyes. Now, as irrefutable evidence mounts that
The phenomenology of synaesthesia
This article supplements our earlier paper on synaesthesia published in JCS (Ramachandran & Hubbard, 2001a). We discuss the phenomenology of synaesthesia in greater detail, raise several new
Pseudo-Synesthesia through Reading Books with Colored Letters
Reading in color appears to be a promising avenue in which it is possible to acquire a subset of synesthetic behavioral traits in adulthood through training, and the first evidence of acquiring letter-color associations through reading in color is shown.
Superior Encoding Enhances Recall in Color-Graphemic Synesthesia
A synesthetic advantage is found on both types of tests, primarily in the initial encoding of information, which adds to existing evidence of advantages in synesthetic memory, as well as provides novel evidence that synesthetes may have enhanced encoding rather than superior recall.
Impaired acquisition of novel grapheme-color correspondences in synesthesia
To examine the presence of latent color associations for novel characters, synesthetes and controls were trained on pre-defined associations between colors and complex shapes, on the assumption that the prescribed shape-color correspondences would on average differ from implicit synesthetic associations.