September 2017
Volume 17, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2017
Grapheme-color associations can immediately transfer to novel graphemes, but such synesthetic colors are unstable.
Author Affiliations
  • Kazuhiko Yokosawa
    The University of Tokyo
  • Takuya Tsushiro
    The University of Tokyo
  • Michiko Asano
    Rikkyo University
Journal of Vision August 2017, Vol.17, 1362. doi:
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      Kazuhiko Yokosawa, Takuya Tsushiro, Michiko Asano; Grapheme-color associations can immediately transfer to novel graphemes, but such synesthetic colors are unstable.. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1362. doi:

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

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Previous research on grapheme-color synesthesia has revealed that synesthetic colors associated with graphemes since early childhood can be transferred to a novel grapheme after only a 10-minute writing exercise (Mroczko, Metzinger, Singer, & Nikolić, 2009). The present study examined the stability of such newly acquired grapheme-color associations for novel graphemes. Participants were eight adult Japanese-speaking grapheme-color synesthetes. They learned six novel graphemes (Glagolitic alphabets); each of these graphemes was randomly paired with a grapheme acquired in early childhood (Japanese phonetic Hiragana characters). Resulting novel-familiar grapheme pairs were presented for training in a 30 minute learning session consisting of a handwriting phase and a succeeding computer-based training phase. Another set of six novel (Glagolitic) graphemes served as control stimuli; these stimuli were not associated with familiar graphemes and they did not appear in the learning session. Synesthetes selected a color experienced for each of the 12 novel graphemes from a color palette; this occurred three times: before, immediately after, and one week after the learning session. Participants were asked to indicate if they experienced no color for the grapheme. Results showed that: (1) Learned novel graphemes tended to elicit synesthetic colors more than control graphemes. In many cases the synesthetic colors for learned novel graphemes were transferred from paired familiar graphemes to these newly learned items. (2) Over a week, newly acquired synesthetic colors were subject to change, although they did not disappear. Grapheme-color matching consistency over time between measurements immediately after learning and one week after the learning for learned novel graphemes was lower than those for familiar graphemes. Collectively, the present findings suggest that although grapheme-color associations can immediately transfer to novel graphemes, such synesthetic colors are less stable than those for graphemes acquired in early childhood.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017


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