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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)
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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