Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses (Springer Series in Neuropsychology)

CYTOWIC, Richard E(dmund) 1952-
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The discount is only available for 'Alert of Favourite Topics' newsletter recipients. Click here to subscribe. Add to basket. Add to wishlist. What is wishlist? Neuroscience, neurology Psychology theory Further readings in psychology Neuroscience, neurology charity campaign Psychology theory charity campaign Further readings in psychology charity campaign. Relevant matches.

Recently viewed. Related to your recently viewed titles. We use cookies on our website to provide personalised content and services. The synesthesia of movement in visual rasters remained a central theme in Mondrian's experiments, culminating in the Boogie Woogie paintings of his last years.


In the first decades of this century, technical limits were a major obstacle in the experiments by Mondrian, Kandinsky and Scriabin. From the fifties the technological innovations in electronic and digital productions of image and sound offered new possibilities for the performance of synesthetic experiments. Another era of synesthetic experiments started as a number of reviews show [9,12,17,22].

The more recent experiments seem mainly involved in the physical or electronic translation of music and sound into images and animation [30]. Lesser attention has been paid to the psychological i. In comparison with the more psychological oriented experiments by Scriabin, Kandinsky and Mondrian, current artistic experiments seem more orientated on the physics of synesthesia e.

Psychological studies into synesthesia have their roots in medical research. At that time synesthesia was considered as a medical pathology. The clinical case study was often used as a method of research.

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Jasmin Lee Cori. Mattis, Olivia. Cytowic, R. Added to basket. Synesthesia -- Physiological aspects. When conditioned responses "fire back": Bidirectional cross-activation creates learning opportunities in synesthesia.

Sachs described photisms the visual perception of colored spots in front of the eyes, like in after-images that were perceived by his sister and himself with numbers, days of the week, letters and musical tones [31]. It was assumed that synesthesia was a normal quality of the brain, that was more developed in some individuals than in others. Gradually, the pathological approach of synesthesia as an abnormal individual functioning was abandoned in favor of physiological and psychological approaches of normal cognitive functioning.

Psychologists opposed the physiological approach and considered synesthesia as the product of a mental association of sense-data.

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The debate between naturalists and mentalists laid the foundation for a century of psychological research. Should synesthetic perceptions be explained by direct sensory-physiological mechanisms or by mental operations of sense-data? This question gave rise to Fechner's first aesthetic-psychological experiments with groups of subjects [32]. Fechner surveyed 73 persons on their letter photisms. This type of social scientific experiment was adopted by a number of experimental psychologists and marked an important turn in synesthetic research, which was limited to individual case studies before that time.

The perceived correspondences between colors and consonants, vowels and numbers, were studied extensively. The psychologist Marks published a meta-analysis of 35 studies with in total persons [3]. It appeared difficult to infer any systematic rules of color-letter or color-number correspondences. However, Marks notified that the observations can be ordered on the dimension of brightness.

Bright consonants would correspond to light colors and dark consonants to dark colors. The increasing significance that was attributed to synesthesia was expressed in the International Congress of Physiological Psychology, held in Paris in The subject of synesthesia was scheduled as the opening session in the program, and was devoted to a debate between the naturalists and the mentalists.

The first laboratory experiments with synesthetic subjects emerged in the late twenties of the twentieth century Figure V. The debates between the naturalists and the mentalists developed into a dispute of two theses that are still influential today: the unity-of-the senses thesis and the modularity thesis.

The thesis of the unity of the senses was developed by Gestalt-psychological oriented researchers like Von Hornbostel and Werner [7]. Hornbostel elaborated on the Aristotelian idea of common sense. For instance, brightness, warmth and roughness supposedly originated from more than one sense modality and had logically to be perceived by the common sense. Hornbostel assumed brightness to be the central dimension that appeared in each sense modality light-dark, hard-soft, sharp-dull, light-heavy, cold-warm [3,25]. In Hornbostel's view the unity of the senses was the basis of the unity of the arts.

Hornbostel designed laboratory experiments in which he asked subjects to match different stimuli. First he gave them an odor and asked them to match it to a corresponding grey card. Then he asked them to match the odor to a corresponding pitch. Finally, the subjects matched the pitch with a grey card. Comparisons of the chosen grey cards produced fits that were almost identical.

Hornbostel interpreted the results as proof that the unity thesis was valid [3,25]. But in fact he only tested the cross-modal transfer of the brightness dimension. Werner investigated a developmental variant of the unity thesis: Although adults differentiate the perceptions of different senses, babies would perceive the environment undifferentiated [7].

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The emphasis of psychological research shifted from studies of static correspondence rules to the dynamics of the process of synesthetic perception. According to Kouwer, experiments with color-tone correspondences had failed to show consistent results [33]. Zietz was one of the first psychologists who designed experiments to investigate the process of synesthetic experiences [26].

In an obscured room in a psychological laboratory, subjects were shown strong visual stimuli that produced clear after-images. While the subjects perceived after-images auditory stimuli were given. It was investigated how the auditory stimuli affected the visual after-images.

The main result was that extremely low and high tones influenced the visual perception of after-images. A high tone made the perceived color more intense and clearer.

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Moreover, high tones made colors look harder and colder, and the rhythm of the after-images appeared to accelerate. Zietz concluded that sensations of color and sound are part of an indivisible Gestalt perception in which the auditory and visual perceptions mutually influence each other.

Opposite the unitary thesis stood the modularity thesis that was rooted in the European associationistic psychology and the American behaviorism of the beginning of this century. The modularity thesis claimed that synesthetic perception was the product of the conditioning of mental associations of sensory elements.

Howells, for instance, designed laboratory experiments in which subjects were reinforced to distinguish two complementary colors with help of a low organ tone that was played before the presentation of a carmine red stimulus and a high organ tone before a blue green one [34]. Eight subjects got presented stimuli sessions.

Edited by Roger T. Dean

Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses (Springer Series in Neuropsychology): Medicine & Health Science Books @ Synesthesia comes from the Greek syn (meaning union) and aisthesis (sensation​), literally Springer Series in Neuropsychology A Union of the Senses.

After a while, Howells sometimes played the wrong tone before a color and investigated how it affected the responses of the subjects. Playing the wrong tone disturbed the color perception. Good tones made the color more clearly distinguishable.

Howells concluded that synesthetic perception is a product of conditioning. According to Kouwer, most other experiments into the conditioning of synesthesia produced inconsistent results [33]. In social psychology, attempts to measure consistencies in synesthetic experiences led to the development of the famous Semantic Differential Scale [35]. Karwoski and his associates carried out a series of surveys with subjects, asking to mark their mood on an emotion circle while listening to pieces of classical music that were chosen by the experimentators [36].

Cytowic, Richard E(dmund) 1952-