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Jun-ichi Nagai, Kazuhiko Yokosawa, Michiko Asano; Traits of grapheme-color synesthesia in non-synesthetes. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):1324. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.1324.
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Recent research suggests that synesthetes and non-synesthetes lie on a continuum. Grapheme-color synesthetes and non-synesthetes showed comparable regularities in their associations of graphemes with colors (Yokosawa, Nagai, & Asano, 2011, Psychonomics). This study explored how traits of grapheme-color synesthesia emerge in non-synesthetes. Using a questionnaire methodology, 199 young females were asked to choose the most suitable color for each of 40 graphemes (ten from each of four categories: Arabic and Kanji numerals, and Kana and alphabetical vowels) from 11 basic color terms. The same test was repeated twice with a three-week interval. Participants’ scores on the consistency of color choices across the two sessions were distributed unimodally with a wide range. A mean split divided participants into high- and low- synesthetic groups. We then compared regularities in grapheme-color association across the two groups. The high-synesthetic group produced a wider variety of significant grapheme-color associations, but considerable similarities were found between the two groups. Correlational analyses of the significant associations showed that both groups tended to associate more frequent graphemes with more distinctive colors, consistent with previous findings on synesthetes’ choices. In addition, grapheme ordering and color typicality were correlated. Remarkably, these trends were generally stronger in the low-synesthetic group; they tended to decrease or disappear in the high-synesthetic group. These findings suggest that people with higher synesthetic traits are less dependent on common regularities that produce coarse (i.e., many to many) correlation-based associations; instead, they depend more on fine one-to-one regularities, which may lead to their greater variety of grapheme-color associations with higher consistency over time.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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