Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Experiencing letters as colors: New insights into synesthesia

Date:
May 9, 2014
Source:
Taylor & Francis
Summary:
Scientists studying the bizarre phenomenon of synasthesia – best described as a “union of the senses” whereby two or more of the five senses that are normally experienced separately are involuntarily and automatically joined together – have made a new breakthrough in their attempts to understand the condition.

Colored letters and numbers. Scientists studied four synesthetes who experience color when seeing printed letters of the alphabet.
Credit: AntonioBattista Am2 / Fotolia

Scientists studying the bizarre phenomenon of synesthesia -- best described as a "union of the senses" whereby two or more of the five senses that are normally experienced separately are involuntarily and automatically joined together -- have made a new breakthrough in their attempts to understand the condition.

V.S. Ramachandran and Elizabeth Seckel from the University of San Diego studied four synesthetes who experience color when seeing printed letters of the alphabet. Their aim was to determine at what point during sensory processing these 'colors' appeared.

To do this, the researchers asked their synesthetes -- as well as a control group -- to complete three children's picture puzzles in which words were printed backwards or were not immediately visible.

When the results were processed, Ramachandran and Seckel discovered that the synesthetes were able to complete the puzzles three times faster than the control subjects, and with fewer errors. The synesthetes also revealed that they saw the obscured letters in the puzzles in the same color as they would the 'normal' letters. This process effectively clued them in to what the letters were, and allowed them to read the distorted words much more quickly than the controls could.

Although it was just a small study, Ramachandran and Seckel's work, published in the current issue of Neurocase, 'strongly supports the interpretation that the synthetic colors are evoked preconsciously early in sensory processing'. The four synesthetes had an advantage in completing the puzzles because the 'extra' information they received when looking at the letters was then sent up to 'higher levels of sensory processing, providing additional insight for reading the distorted and backwards text': a fascinating and important insight into a condition those of us who see letters as just letters find simply baffling.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. V.S. Ramachandran, Elizabeth Seckel. Synesthetic colors induced by graphemes that have not been consciously perceived. Neurocase, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/13554794.2014.890728

Cite This Page:

Taylor & Francis. "Experiencing letters as colors: New insights into synesthesia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140509074122.htm>.
Taylor & Francis. (2014, May 9). Experiencing letters as colors: New insights into synesthesia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140509074122.htm
Taylor & Francis. "Experiencing letters as colors: New insights into synesthesia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140509074122.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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