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Jonathan S. A. Carriere, Daniel Smilek, Michael G. Reynolds, Mike J. Dixon, Philip M. Merikle; The influence of grapheme-color synaesthesia on eye movements. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):1074. doi: 10.1167/6.6.1074.
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Grapheme-color synaesthesia is a condition in which ordinary black text is perceived in vivid colors. Some grapheme-color synaesthetes report that they dislike looking at a grapheme that is presented in the “wrong” color (i.e. a color that is incongruent with their synaesthetic experiences for the grapheme). We investigated the ramifications of grapheme color congruency by monitoring eye movements. In Experiment 1, D.E., a grapheme-color synaesthete, searched displays of colored graphemes for a specific target letter. Each display contained equal numbers of congruently and incongruently colored graphemes. The target grapheme was present on half of the trials and absent on the other half of the trials. On target present trials, D.E. was more likely to miss and re-fixate incongruently colored targets than congruently colored targets. On target absent trials, there was a trend for D.E.'s overall fixation times to be greater on congruent items than on incongruent items. In Experiment 2, D.E. was asked to freely view displays of colored graphemes for as long as he wished. Again, congruent items received more fixation time than did incongruent items. These findings indicate that not only does D.E. dislike looking at “wrongly” colored graphemes, but he also tends to ignore information that is inconsistent with his synaesthetic experiences.
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