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Hiu Mei Chow, Daniel Harris, Sandy Eid, Vivian Ciaramitaro; Early experience alters the developmental trajectory of visual, auditory and tactile sound-shape correspondences. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1193. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1193.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Crossmodal correspondence, the association of information across the senses, is an ubiquitous multisensory phenomenon. The bouba/kiki effect, a prime example, finds an association between an abstract shape, spikey or round, and a nonsense word, /kiki/ or /baba/, respectively. This effect is found across cultures and languages, early in development, and is manifest in different senses (see Spence, 2011, for a review). Little is known of how development and experience alter this correspondence. Here we examine if the association strength of the bouba/kiki effect is modulated by age and experience. Over 400 participants, 3-80 years old, were recruited from the Museum of Science Boston. Participants chose (1) which of two visual shapes best matched a given non-sense word (Experiment1: sound-to-visual-shape), (2) which of two sounds best matched a given visual shape (Experiment2: visual-shape-to-sound), or (3) which of two felt shapes, hidden-from-view, best matched a given non-sense word (Experiment3: sound-to-tactile-shape). We quantified association strength by measuring the proportion of trials a round attribute (e.g. round visual/tactile shape or an /a/ sound) was chosen for each stimulus type over multiple repeats of each stimulus combination. We found that association strength increased during early and middle childhood, plateaued before adulthood, and declined in older adulthood. Across experiments, association strength was modulated by musical and language experience, with a trend of enhanced association strength in musicians and monolingual participants and as a function of time on task. Our findings, using the same paradigm and stimuli across a wide age range, suggest crossmodal correspondences are dynamic and malleable to environmental exposure.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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