August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Gradual consolidation of synesthesia during adolescence: a case study
Author Affiliations
  • Thomas Sørensen
    Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Aalborg University
  • Maria Nordfang
    Center for Visual Cognition, University of Copenhagen
  • Árni Ásgeirsson
    Center for Functional Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 460. doi:
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      Thomas Sørensen, Maria Nordfang, Árni Ásgeirsson; Gradual consolidation of synesthesia during adolescence: a case study . Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):460.

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

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Synesthesia is a rare condition in the normal observer where an inducer quale is consistently followed by a second, concurrent quale (Grossenbacher & Lovelace, 2001). Several studies have demonstrated the effects of synesthesia through a number of objective measures; like visual search (Laeng, 2009), visual priming (Mattingley, Rich, Yelland, & Bradshaw, 2001), and the Stroop task (Mills, Boteler, & Oliver, 1999). In a recent study ásgeirsson, Nordfang, & Sørensen (2015) isolated specific components of attention that are modulated by synesthesia, and which seem to correspond to attentional changes modulated by expertise (Sørensen & Kyllingsbæk, 2012; Dall, Watanabe, & Sørensen, in review). Here we explore a case of a young female synesthete; AR (age 13), who presented an unusual, but consistent, color profile that allowed us to explore the effects of partial color encoding in synesthesia. Interestingly, we were not able to reproduce the attentional modulations reported by ásgeirsson et al. (2015) as AR did not show any convincing modulation of known attentional parameters. Several studies have demonstrated that synesthesia can be acquired during childhood (e.g. Witthoft & Weaver, 2006), and recently Simner & Bain (2013) has convincingly shown that consolidation of colour-grapheme synaesthesia develop during childhood and early adolescence. Together these studies seem to suggest that the attentional effects seen in adult observers who have colour-grapheme synaesthesia may in fact reflect an expertise related modulation between long-term colour-grapheme associations. To explore this hypothesis a follow-up screening of AR's colour-grapheme associations revealed that a number of letters are still settling on their final colour association – colour changes that AR herself was unaware of, e.g. that L had changed from red to blue. Additionally, AR's overall consistency also markedly increased over the ~2 year between the screening sessions, similar to results reported by Simner & Bain (2013).

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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