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Lecture 6

Part I - Lecture 6 (Synaesthesia).doc

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University of British Columbia
PSYC 260
Julia Kam

Synaesthesia - A surprisingly large number of people describe unusual experiences that are consistently triggered by certain stimuli - (Some of) these people are synaesthetes - E.g. people experience alphabets, music, swimming styles, etc. being associated with specific colours - E.g. letter-colour, number-colour, weekday/month-colour, sound-colour, word-taste, number forms - E.g. people associate taste with shapes or shapes with tastes - E.g. some associate numbers with personalities - Most are learned categorical structures - “syn” = together/with - “aesthetic” = feeling/sensation - “synaesthesia” = linked sensations (or a crossing of the senses, which is a bad definition as some of synaesthetic experiences are not sensory-related) - Inducer: stimulus that triggers synaesthesia (e.g. letters) - Concurrent: synaesthetic experience (e.g. colours) - Photism: a coloured concurrent - Grapheme: printed letters/numerals - To count synaesthetes, we need to know who counts as a synaesthete, which is a surprisingly difficult question to answer - For grapheme synaesthetes, a synesthesia battery can be used to test accuracy of their colour association by asking them to participate in multiple trials in which the 26 alphabets presented randomly and subjects must choose the exact colours - Synaesthetes have higher than average colour memory Self-report synaesthesia - People answering positive to surveys - 5-40% of the population will respond positively to questions about synaesthetic experiences - Wording of the questions will change percentage - Many people will respond “yes” to virtually any questions on a survey - At least 0-2% of the population meet consistency requirements for synaesthesia - >10% have consistent number forms - Consistency and self-report are independent o Most people who report synaesthesia are not consistent o Some people who do not report synaesthesia meet the consistency requirements Synaesthesia Stroop Task - The stroop effect is a demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task by naming a colour word that is printed in a colour not denoted by the name (e.g. the word “red” printed in blue ink instead of red ink) - For synaesthetes, instead of having words, alphabets are used, and some alphabets are not printed in colours that the synaesthetes normally associate the alphabets with. The reaction time for the incongruent stimuli is compared to the reaction time for congruent stimuli. Automaticity - No studies on percentage of population with automatic synaesthetic associations o E.g. all uses of synaesthetic stroop task have been case/group studies - Logically independent from self-report/consistency o But no actual comparison How many synaesthetes are there? - Based on consistency criterion, at least 4% (up to 15% if you include number forms) - Based on self-repor
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