August 2014
Volume 14, Issue 10
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2014
Two plus blue equals green: Grapheme-color synesthesia allows cognitive access to numerical information via color
Author Affiliations
  • J. Daniel McCarthy
    Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Lianne N. Barnes
    Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Bryan A. Alvarez
    Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
  • Gideon P. Caplovitz
    Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno
Journal of Vision August 2014, Vol.14, 450. doi:10.1167/14.10.450
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      J. Daniel McCarthy, Lianne N. Barnes, Bryan A. Alvarez, Gideon P. Caplovitz; Two plus blue equals green: Grapheme-color synesthesia allows cognitive access to numerical information via color. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):450. doi: 10.1167/14.10.450.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

In grapheme-color synesthesia, graphemes (e.g., numbers or letters) evoke color experiences. It is generally reported that the opposite is not true: colors will not generate experiences of graphemes or their associated information. However, recent research has provided evidence that colors can implicitly elicit symbolic representations of associated graphemes. Here, we examine if these representations can be cognitively accessed. Using a mathematical verification task replacing graphemes with color patches, we find that synesthetes can verify such problems with colors as accurately as with graphemes. Doing so, however, takes time: ~250 ms per color. Moreover, we find minimal reaction time switch-costs for switching between computing with graphemes and colors. This demonstrates that given specific task demands, synesthetes can cognitively access numerical information elicited by physical colors, and they do so as accurately as with graphemes. We discuss these results in the context of possible cognitive strategies used to access the information.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014

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