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Increased cross-talk between regions specialized for different functions may account for the many types of synesthesia.
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For example, the additive experience of seeing color when looking at graphemes might be due to cross-activation of the grapheme-recognition area and the color area called V4 see figure. However, if normal feedback were not inhibited as usual, then signals feeding back from late stages of multi-sensory processing might influence earlier stages such that tones could activate vision. Cytowic and Eagleman find support for the disinhibition idea in the so-called acquired forms  of synesthesia that occur in non-synesthetes under certain conditions: They also note that it can likewise occur during stages of meditation , deep concentration, sensory deprivation , or with use of psychedelics such as LSD or mescaline , and even, in some cases, marijuana.
According to this account, synesthesia is a phenomenon mediated by the extraction of the meaning of the inducing stimulus. Thus, synesthesia may be fundamentally a semantic phenomenon. Therefore, to understand neural mechanisms of synesthesia the mechanisms of semantics and the extraction of meaning need to be understood better. This is a non-trivial issue because it is not only a question of a location in the brain at which meaning is "processed" but pertains also to the question of understanding —epitomized in e.
Thus, the question of the neural basis of synesthesia is deeply entrenched into the general mind—body problem and the problem of the explanatory gap.
Synesthesia - Wikipedia
Genetics of synesthesia The genetic mechanism of synesthesia has long been debated. Due to the prevalence of synesthesia among the first-degree relatives of synesthetes,  there is evidence that synesthesia might have a genetic basis, however the monozygotic twins case studies indicate there is an epigenetic component.
Synesthesia might also be a oligogenic condition, with Locus heterogeneity , multiple forms of inheritance including Mendelian in some cases , and continuous variation in gene expression.
Diagnostic criteria[ edit ] Although often termed a "neurological condition," synesthesia is not listed in either the DSM-IV or the ICD since it most often does not interfere with normal daily functioning. A synesthete might perceive the left panel like the panel on the right. A tends to be red; O tends to be white or black; S tends to be yellow etc. This variety means that defining synesthesia in an individual is difficult, and the majority of synesthetes are completely unaware that their experiences have a name.
However, the criteria are different in the second book: Synesthetic perceptions are spatially extended, meaning they often have a sense of "location.
Synesthetic percepts are consistent and generic i. Synesthesia is highly memorable. Synesthesia is laden with affect. Later research showed that such stark externalization occurs in a minority of synesthetes.
Refining this concept, Cytowic and Eagleman differentiated between "localizers" and "non-localizers" to distinguish those synesthetes whose perceptions have a definite sense of spatial quality from those whose perceptions do not.
We can think of "prevalence" both in terms of how common is synesthesia or different forms of synesthesia within the population, or how common are different forms of synesthesia within synesthetes.
History of synesthesia research The interest in colored hearing dates back to Greek antiquity, when philosophers asked if the color chroia, what we now call timbre of music was a quantifiable quality.
As the s cognitive revolution made inquiry into internal subjective states respectable again, scientists returned to synesthesia. Psychologists and neuroscientists study synesthesia not only for its inherent appeal, but also for the insights it may give into cognitive and perceptual processes that occur in synesthetes and non-synesthetes alike. Synesthesia is now the topic of scientific books and papers, PhD theses, documentary films, and even novels.
Since the rise of the Internet in the s, synesthetes began contacting one another and creating web sites devoted to the condition. Society and culture[ edit ] Main article: List of people with synesthesia As mentioned before, one of the most notable synesthetes is Solomon Shereshevsky , a newspaper reporter turned celebrated mnemonist, who was discovered by Russian neuropsychologist, Alexander Luria , to have a rare fivefold form of synesthesia.
The automatic, and nearly permanent, retention of every little detail due to synesthesia greatly inhibited Shereshevsky from understanding much of what he read or heard. Synesthesia in art Other notable synesthetes come particularly from artistic professions and backgrounds. Synesthetic art historically refers to multi-sensory experiments in the genres of visual music , music visualization , audiovisual art , abstract film , and intermedia.
Vladimir Nabokov writes explicitly about synesthesia in several novels. Alexander Scriabin composed colored music that was deliberately contrived and based on the circle of fifths , whereas Olivier Messiaen invented a new method of composition the modes of limited transposition specifically to render his bi-directional sound-color synesthesia.
New art movements such as literary symbolism, non-figurative art, and visual music have profited from experiments with synesthetic perception and contributed to the public awareness of synesthetic and multi-sensory ways of perceiving. Brandy Gale, a Canadian visual artist, experiences an involuntary joining or crossing of any of her senses — hearing, vision, taste, touch, smell and movement.
Gale paints from life rather than from photographs and by exploring the sensory panorama of each locale attempts to capture, select, and transmit these personal experiences. Kandinsky combined four senses: Technical reviews appear in period volumes of Scientific American. Baudelaire participated in a hashish experiment by psychiatrist Jacques-Joseph Moreau and became interested in how the senses might affect each other.
Ramin Djawadi , a composer best known for his work on composing the theme songs and scores for such TV series as Game of Thrones , Westworld and for the Iron Man movie, also has synesthesia.
He says he tends to "associate colors with music, or music with colors. Author and synesthete Pat Duffy describes five ways in which synesthetic characters have been used in modern fiction. Books in this category include The Gift by Vladimir Nabokov. Synesthesia as Romantic pathology: Synesthesia as psychological health and balance: Synesthesia as young adult literature and science fiction: Many literary depictions of synesthesia are not accurate.
Which shape would you call "Bouba" and which "Kiki"? Research on synesthesia raises questions about how the brain combines information from different sensory modalities, referred to as crossmodal perception or multisensory integration.
Individuals on the island of Tenerife showed a similar preference between shapes called takete and maluma. In particular, synesthesia might be relevant to the philosophical problem of qualia ,   given that synesthetes experience extra qualia e.
An important insight for qualia research may come from the findings that synesthesia has the properties of ideasthesia ,  which then suggest a crucial role of conceptualization processes in generating qualia.
The vOICe is a privately owned research project, running without venture capital, that was first implemented using low-cost hardware in The vOICe converts visual stimuli of the surroundings captured by the camera into corresponding aural representations soundscapes delivered to the user through headphones at a default rate of one soundscape per second.
Each soundscape is a left-to-right scan, with height represented by pitch, and brightness by loudness.