Colour-Grapheme Synaesthesia: An Investigation into the Relationship between Synaesthetic Colour and Visual Colour

Brown, Francesca (2010). Colour-Grapheme Synaesthesia: An Investigation into the Relationship between Synaesthetic Colour and Visual Colour Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Brown, Francesca
Thesis Title Colour-Grapheme Synaesthesia: An Investigation into the Relationship between Synaesthetic Colour and Visual Colour
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Derek Arnold
Total pages 89
Abstract/Summary Synaesthesia is a condition wherein ordinary stimuli elicit extraordinary experiences. For colourgrapheme synaesthetes, reading black numbers, letters or words can elicit coloured experiences. The current study examined unresolved issues concerning how these coloured experiences are generated. Experiment 1 assessed the precision by which synaesthetic colours were matched using visual induced graphemes versus matched using aurally induced graphemes. No precision differences were evident suggesting that synaesthetic colours do not require visual input and are therefore unlike real seen colours, behaving more like memorised experiences. Experiment 2 was conducted to verify that Experiment 1 results were due to synaesthetic colours behaving like recalled colours in the auditory condition, and were not resultant from the apparatus' inability to detect slight precision differences. Using the same testing apparatus, it was found that both synaesthetes and age, sex and education matched controls were more precise when matching physical seen colours as opposed to colours that had to be recalled. This substantiated the results of Experiment 1, by establishing the adequacy of the testing apparatus. Intriguingly, Experiment 2 found synaesthetes were more precise at matching both seen and recalled colours comparative to controls. Experiment 3 examined the possibility that this enhanced precision reflected a generic advantage for synaesthetes when making judgments associated with colour. Synaesthetes were better at learning verbal stimuli (capable of triggering their synaesthetic colour) compared to controls. However they were no better at learning spatial stimuli (incapable of triggering their synaesthetic colour) compared to controls. Thus, the findings overall suggest that synaesthetic colours are driven by high-level cognitive operations, rather than the low-level sensory processes, and are subsequently not mediated by visual input.

 
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Created: Tue, 05 Apr 2011, 17:07:12 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology