Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Seeing Sounds Or Hearing Colors: Scientists Narrow Search For Genes Associated With Synesthesia

Date:
February 6, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
A new study identifies specific chromosomal regions linked to auditory visual synesthesia, a neurological condition characterized by seeing colors in response to sounds. The research makes major strides towards identifying the genes that underlie synesthesia and may eventually lead to improved understanding of typical and atypical cognitive development.

An example how a synesthetic person might see letters and numbers.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain Image.

A new study identifies specific chromosomal regions linked to auditory visual synaesthesia, a neurological condition characterized by seeing colors in response to sounds. The research, published online on February 5th in the American Journal of Human Genetics, makes major strides towards identifying the genes that underlie synaesthesia and may eventually lead to improved understanding of typical and atypical cognitive development.

In synaesthesia, which affects less than 1% of the population, stimulation of one sensory pathway results in experiences in another pathway (e.g. hearing sounds triggers colors) or in a different facet of the same pathway (e.g. reading black text trigger colors). "Synaesthesia is known to run in families but the genetics of synaesthesia are not well understood," says lead study author Dr. Julian E. Asher from the Department of Genomic Medicine at Imperial College London.

Dr. Asher designed a study to look for genes linked to auditory visual synaesthesia. The research, performed as part of Dr Asher's PhD in Prof. Anthony Monaco's laboratory at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford in collaboration with Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, involved a sophisticated genome-wide screen to search for susceptibility genes linked to auditory-visual synaesthesia.

The research team identified four candidate regions linked with susceptibility to synaesthesia but no support was found for an earlier theory of linkage to the X-chromosome. Although the resolution of the scan makes identifying candidate genes challenging, the researchers identified a number of interesting genes.

"The region on chromosome 2 with the strongest linkage is particularly interesting as it has been previously linked to autism," offers Dr. Asher. "Sensory and perceptual abnormalities are common in autism spectrum conditions and synaesthesia is sometimes reported as a symptom." Candidate genes associated with epilepsy, dyslexia, learning and memory are also located in the candidate regions.

The findings indicate that the genetic basis of auditory-visual synaesthesia is more complex than originally believed and may be due to a combination of multiple genes subject to multiple modes of inheritance. "This study comprises a significant step towards identifying the genetic substrates underlying synaesthesia, with important implications for our understanding of the role of genes in human cognition and perception," concludes Dr. Asher.

The researchers include Julian E. Asher, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; Janine A. Lamb, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; Denise Brocklebank, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Jean-Baptiste Cazier, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Elena Maestrini, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy; Laura Addis, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Mallika Sen, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Simon Baron-Cohen, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, and Anthony P. Monaco, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Seeing Sounds Or Hearing Colors: Scientists Narrow Search For Genes Associated With Synesthesia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205133728.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, February 6). Seeing Sounds Or Hearing Colors: Scientists Narrow Search For Genes Associated With Synesthesia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205133728.htm
Cell Press. "Seeing Sounds Or Hearing Colors: Scientists Narrow Search For Genes Associated With Synesthesia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205133728.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins