Upcoming Conference Abstracts
Somerville College, University of Oxford
Charles Spence, Crossmodal Research Laboratory, University of Oxford, UK
What role crossmodal correspondences in 'synaesthetic design/marketing'?
There has long been interest in the areas of 'synaesthetic design' (Haverkamp, 2014; Spence, 2015), and 'synaesthetic marketing' (Spence, 2012, 2013). Indeed there are a number of synaesthesia-inspired creative presentations at the conference. In this keynote, I want to take a closer look at the long history of creative multisensory and crossmodal design in the arts. I will trace the close links, interactions, and synergies between those artists/designers inspired by the idiosyncratic inducer-concurrent mappings of synaesthesia, and those design solutions that would appear to have been based on the more consensual crossmodal correspondences that connect the senses in a manner that many people find more intuitive than the idiosyncratic inducer/concurrent mappings. Ultimately, this will lead to a discussion of possibilities to translate between one sense and another (Spence & Di Stefano, 2022, 2023), and to outline the kinds of multisensory outcomes that can be expected by artists/designers when choosing to engage with multiple senses in their works/design practice.
Haverkamp, M. (2014). Synesthetic design: Handbook for a multisensory approach. Basel: Birkhäuser.
Spence, C. (2012). Synaesthetic marketing: Cross sensory selling that exploits unusual neural cues is finally coming of age. The Wired World in 2013, November, 104-107.
Spence, C. (2013). On crossmodal correspondences and the future of synaesthetic marketing: Matching music and soundscapes to tastes, flavours, and fragrance. In K. Bronner, R. Hirt, & C. Ringe (Eds.), (((ABA))) Audio Branding Academy Yearbook 2012/2013 (pp. 39-52). Baden-Baden: Nomos.
Spence, C. (2015). Book review: Synaesthetic design. Multisensory Research, 28(3-4), 245-248. DOI: 10.1163/22134808-00002476.
Spence, C., & Di Stefano, N. (2022). Coloured hearing, colour music, colour organs, and the search for perceptually meaningful correspondences between colour and pitch. i-Perception, 13(3):1-42. DOI: 10.1177/20416695221092802.
Spence, C., & Di Stefano, N. (2023). Sensory translation between audition and vision. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-023-02343-w.
Daphne Maurer, McMaster University, Canada
Pretty Ugly: What synaesthesia can teach us about why we like some songs, faces, foods, plays, pictures, poems, etc., and dislike others.
Homo sapiens are aesthetic beasts. People have decorated their environments since Paleolithic times. This talk will draw on experimental evidence from human development to explain how such aesthetic preferences are formed, and will show how principles underlying synaesthesia apply.
Their origin appears to lie in how the environment interacts with the structure of the nervous system, including multi-sensory interactions. A baby's structural biases and limitations constrain attention, making some stimuli easier to process and some of those particularly salient. From these structures and limitations, the mechanism of aesthetic preferences emerges.
This is a consilient approach to aesthetics. In this short talk I illustrate it for taste preferences, judgments of facial beauty, music and dance.
The talk draws on my 50 years of laboratory research on the development of perception plus 30 years of library and field research that went into my recent book, published with Charles Maurer, Pretty Ugly <http://prettyugly.info.
Julia Simner and Jamie Ward, University of Sussex, UK
Synaesthesia as Tool for Understanding Variation in the Mind & Brain
People with synaesthesia inhabit a remarkable mental world in which odours can be textured, words can have taste, and music can be a kaleidoscopic coloured spectacle in front of the eyes. Synaesthesia has now been documented for over two hundred years in psychology and neuroscience but key questions remain about why it exists, and what such conditions might mean for cognitive theories of the human mind. In this talk we will describe research from our labs spanning two decades, based on data from both adults and children, and both human and non-human animals. The research we describe demonstrates how cognitive processes can drive the experiences of synaesthetes, and in turn, shows how synaesthesia can be used as a tool to better understand different facets of cognition (such as language processing). We also reposition synaesthesia as a model for understanding broader variations in the construction of the human mind and brain. We place synaesthesia within a neurodevelopmental cascade from genes to brain to cognition, which gives synaesthetes a distinctive way of thinking - beyond synaesthesia itself (e.g., enhanced memory and imagery, but also clinical vulnerabilities and deficits). In other words, instead of viewing synaesthesia as a kind of 'dangling qualia' (unusual experiences attached to a typical mind/brain) it should be thought of as unusual experiences that accompany an unusual mind/brain. It is this broad neurodiverse phenotype that is an important object of study in its own right, rather than synaesthesia alone, and it is this phenotype which likely explains any adaptive value of synaesthesia.
Papers and Workshops
Corin Anderson, University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland
Composing Electronic Music with Synaesthesia
As an auditory-visual synaesthete, I perceive music as coloured and textured shapes, or 'photisms' (synaesthetic visual sensations), in my mind's eye. This paper explores the development of my compositional process through an autoethnographic analysis of the production of my electronic music album, titled Photisms, to be released in 2024.
I begin by discussing the impact timbre has on the perceived shape, colour, texture, and weight of my photisms, and how they also appear to materialize as solid, liquid, gaseous, or plasma substances. The perceived weight and state of matter of musically-induced photisms is a formerly unexplored topic in academic literature. The spatiality and temporality of my synaesthetic visualizations of music are also examined. I demonstrate how the perceived location of my photisms can be defined using the Cartesian coordinate system, and how tempo and speed manipulation affect my synaesthetic experiences.
I then go on to explain how, through a process of audiation, I have learned to translate visual images, such as abstract artworks, into music by reverse-engineering my synaesthesia. Through a strong understanding of my synaesthetic auditory-visual correspondences, I have found that it is possible to compose music inspired by a visual image by audiating sounds that induce photisms resembling the image, then producing these sounds and arranging them into a work of music in a digital audio workstation. This innovative approach to music-making has not previously been investigated.
Due to its artistic, scientific, and pedagogical implications, this paper may be of interest to musicians, psychologists, and educators.
Greta Berman, The Juilliard School, New York City, New York
Kandinsky Through the Musician's Lens
Last spring, I spent an entire semester teaching a seminar focusing on Kandinsky to 17 highly trained and talented Juilliard musicians. Their reactions to his works left little doubt in my mind that Kandinsky was synesthetic.
I hope to show through their writings and the music they composed how my students perceived Kandinsky's painting and its musicality.
Many of them had never seen or heard of this artist. Some actually professed their lack of understanding or even dislike of "abstract" art at the beginning of the semester. However, by the end, they all understood what he had been creating, and became converts.
One student explained that she saw "change" as a major theme of Kandinsky's work.
Another pointed out that he could feel the existence of time in his painting, and the movement inside it. Shapes, lines, forms, colors, and Kluverian form constants were examined in detail as students related them to specific music.
One saw Kandinsky's "themes", such as black circles, checkerboards, and triangles as equivalent to Wagner's "leitmotivs."
Another wrote that "studying non-representational art forced a change in how I view art... Initially, I put my efforts towards finding small elements that I understand, maybe a horse, or two people lying down - something like that. As we've looked at more nonrepresentational art, I came to shift my focus towards my emotional reactions to the pieces of art. Each piece makes me feel a different way, and my goal is to understand the why of that. Certain colors (and density of color) make me feel certain ways, in addition to numerous other elements of composition - the harshness of lines, the busyness of the canvas, and more. As I continue to look at art, I'll be focusing on my emotional reactions and figuring out the elements that elicit such reactions."
Yi-Chuan Chen, MacKay Medical College, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Yi-Chuan Chen1, Pi-Chun Huang2, Yang-Chen Shen2, Yen-Han Chang2, Mingxue Zhao2, Charles Spence3
1Department of Medicine, MacKay Medical College, New Taipei City, Taiwan; 2Department of Psychology, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan; 3Department of Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Crossmodal Correspondences between Sounds and Shapes: Mid-level Processing
Crossmodal correspondences, considered by some researchers to be a weak form of synaesthesia, capture people's intuitive associations between categorical features, or polarized dimensions, across different sensory modalities. These correspondences impose constraints on integrating the mass of information in the surrounding environment (i.e., the multisensory binding problem). Sound-shape correspondence constitutes a well-documented example between meaningless speech sounds and visual patterns, such as the association between "Bouba" and rounded shapes, and "Kiki" and angular shapes. In a series of studies, we demonstrate that sound-shape correspondence occurs beyond the level of simple feature processing. A systematic manipulation of the critical attributes in auditory phones and visual patterns enabled us to use logistic linear regression models to predict participants' sound-shape matching judgments. In the visual modality, complex visual patterns were segmented into pieces which maintained the rounded or angular features. We found that the processing fluency of grouping segments into a pattern influenced them participants' matching judgments, suggesting that the global pattern perception, rather than the local features, drove the correspondence. In the auditory modality, the classification dimensions of vowels (front-central-back) and consonants (voiced-voiceless and stop-continuant) were identified as predictors for participants' matching judgments. In a second study, 15 out of 21 tested consonants in Mandarin Chinese retained predictive power even when considering their acoustic features in the logistic linear regression model. Taken together, sound-shape correspondences are built on the connections between global contour and categorical phonetic perception, representing mid-level correspondences rather than mere featural associations. This suggests that crossmodal correspondences manifest at multiple levels of human information processing. Regarding applications, the mid-level correspondences between speech sounds and visual patterns provide a promising audition-to-vision coding scheme for speech perception.
Sean Day, Trident Technical College, Charleston, South Carolina
Towards addressing the significant lack of most possible types of congenital synesthesia
Synesthesia is often defined as a "combining of the senses", where stimuli to one mode produces additional perception in one or more modes. However, if we examine my "Types of synesthesia" chart or others' similar compilations, one of the first things that should jump out - but likewise one of the things perhaps most frequently ignored in popular media - is that, using my own data for example, out of a potential of 342 different types of synesthesia, we only have recorded cases for 75 types. That is only about 22% - less than a quarter - of all of the possible combinations. Yet journalists and researchers alike tend to talk about synesthesia as if any two sensory modes or aspects of the same modality (e.g., shape and color in vision) could be combined. While theoretically that might be the case, and does fit the overarching sense of the definition, it appears that, in actuality, evidence accumulates that such is indeed not the case for the actual neurological trait.
Furthermore, of those 75 types of synesthesia, only 11 are found at rates of more than 5% of all synesthetes having the type; that's less than 15% of the types. And, to take this a step further, with all eleven of those more common types, the synesthetic concurrent is visual. Why all visual? This talk re-opens discussion of why so many potential combinations do not appear, why the synesthetic concurrent is, to an extreme, far most often visual, and the extent to which we might need to reconsider and reconstruct our definition of congenital synesthesia.
Patricia Lynne Duffy, United Nations Language and Communications Unit, New York City
Synesthetes on Stage: Portrayals of synesthetes and other anomalous perceivers in recent theater
This presentation will explore portrayals of synesthetes in four recent theatrical works: Peter Brook's "The Valley of Astonishment", Peter Carruthers' "The Possibility of Colour", Edward Einhorn's "The Taste of Blue", and the stage version of the Wilkie Collins' novel, "The Woman in White".
Each of these works spotlights individuals or communities of persons with forms of perception and behavior that depart from the statistical norm. Each play has an overt or implied criticism of how members of such groups have traditionally been viewed and treated by their societies. This presentation will reflect on the nature of such criticism and the common features found in each theater piece.
In addition, the presentation will consider depictions of selected characters in each theatrical work in terms of the five categories of literary depiction outlined in the chapter "Synesthesia and Literature" in the Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia. Which categories of depiction align with the theatrical portrayals? Do the categories of depiction for synesthete characters apply to characterswho have other forms of anomalous perception?
Umut Eldem, Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, Belgium
Hearing Glass: Synaesthetic and Cross-Modal Correspondences in the Musical Practice
The nature of sound-colour synaesthesia and cross-modality is not only aesthetically relevant, but also functions as a valuable basis for musical and audiovisual compositions.
In this lecture-performance, I will present and discuss the results of my PhD research into synaesthetic and cross-modal relationships in contemporary audiovisual musical practice. The interaction of pitch, rhythm, and timbre on multiple levels results in the emergent property that is the musical experience. In terms of audiovisual art and visual music, it is this emergent property that must be reflected not only in the performance of art, but also during the creation of it. An understanding of how synaesthesia and cross-modality function in this process is essential for exploring new multisensory creative perspectives.
By analysing the works of synaesthetic composers such as Messiaen, Torke, and (pseudo-synaesthete) Scriabin, it has been possible to determine how synaesthetic expression affects emergent musical parameters beyond the pitch. This analysis was then used for further scientific experiments on the sound-colour associations of the analysed pieces in people with and without synaesthesia. The results are then used in creating audiovisual compositions: Through examining cross-modal correspondences at different levels of the creative practice, different possibilities in cross-modal mapping emerge, making it possible to reflect the emergent property of the musical experience in the generation and manipulation of visuals in tandem with the musical creation.
The audiovisual compositions I have created as part of my PhD all use unique methods of audiovisual mapping strategies, following the tradition of synaesthetic composition, visual music, and digital art. Their creation processes showcase the possibilities of incorporating scientific knowledge and perspectives into the artistic creative process as a contemporary musician. Such perspectives are not valuable on a personal level, but are potentially useful and inspiring for other artists and scientists active in the audiovisual and synaesthetic fields.
Solange Glasser, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Australia
Solange Glasser1, Margaret S. Osborne1,2, Amanda E. Krause1,3
1Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne; 2Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne; 3Department of Psychology, James Cook University
High levels of synesthetic endorsement in a study on music listening styles
This presentation focuses on the discussion of a surprising result in a study investigating the association between endorsed synesthetic experiences and music engagement and cognitive styles, in response to music listening; namely, the unusually high level of synesthetic endorsement in a population of young adults. The sample comprised of 310 individuals aged 18-34 (M = 20.03, Mdn = 19, SD = 3.06), with 237 identifying their gender as female (76.50%). Participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire that included demographics, the musicianship module of the MUSEBAQ, the Music Engagement Test (MET), the short version of the Music-Empathizing-Music-Systemizing Inventory (MEMS Inventory), and items from the Synesthesia Battery. Only complete responses were considered. In total, when asked directly about whether they had synaesthesia (n = 302), 196 participants said no (64.90%), 89 (29.50%) said they were not sure, and 17 (5.50%) said they were completely confident that they had synaesthesia. However, 61 of the people who were 'not sure' and a further 31 of the people who said 'no', did select 'yes' to at least one of the synaesthesia type questions. Therefore, for subsequent analyses, a binary classification based on whether the participants had endorsed none (n= 193) or at least one of the synesthesia types (n= 109) was created. This unusually high endorsement of at least one type when presented with a full list of currently known types of synaesthesia suggests that one explicit question may not best capture individuals' experiences of synaesthesia or synaesthesia-like experiences in self-report measures. This finding also compels reflection on both population awareness of synaesthesia and how we, as researchers, classify synaesthetic experiences.
CC Hart, Neurodiversity advocate, artist, and author
Workshop: Colour me hurt and the sound of sore, A panel discussion on pain synaesthesias
Dr Janet Bultitude, Department of Psychology, University of Bath
CC Hart, Columbia University, New York City
Carol Steen, Touro University, New York City
Dr Jamie Ward, Department of Psychology, University of Sussex
Pain is universally experienced, yet there are limited descriptions of synaesthesias involving pain. Reporting physical pain whilst observing pain in others is surprisingly common to the extent that some people wonder whether it should be classed as a type of synaesthesia. However, anecdotal reports suggest the existence of at least two other pain synaesthesias that are virtually unreported in research. In the first, pain is an inducer paired with colour, shape, pattern, texture, motion, and/or other concurrents. In the second, pain is a concurrent paired with one or more normally painless inducer(s), for example feeling pain in the body upon seeing the number 6, hearing certain words, or pulling apart cotton wool. In a panel discussion, we will explore pain synaesthesias, their impact on those who experience them, and the potential implications for 'normal' (non-synaesthetic) pain. We will present early-stage research, first-person accounts, and theoretical frameworks that shed light on how physical pain may foster multi-sensory perceptual phenomena across sensory modalities.
In the first part of the session, the panelists will draw from their research and/or lived experience to answer some preformatted questions on the nature, potential origins, and implications of pain synaesthesias. The second part of the session will be an open discussion in which symposium attendees will be invited to ask questions or offer comment. Our goal is to foster a lively dialogue about pain synesthesias while inspiring curiosity and academic interest in this under-explored topic.
Michael Haverkamp, Independent researcher
Synaesthetic artists of "Farbe-Ton-Forschung" (colour-tone-research) in Germany 1925-36
In 1925, the Hamburg professor of psychology Georg Anschütz initiated a variety of activities for research on synaesthesia. This effort culminated in four congresses on "Farbe-Ton-Forschung" ("colour-tone research") in 1927, 1930, 1933 und 1936. Numerous documents are found in three anthologies and many further publications, which well document the activities in research, visual arts, and pedagogics. These early documents provide a widespread material of coloured visualisations of synesthetic phenomena, supplemented by extended descriptions, self-analysis of specific artists and scientific classifications. Anschütz collected a large number of original artworks which unfortunately has been destroyed during WWII. The printed documents, however, provide an excellent insight into this phase of early synaesthesia research within the German-speaking countries.
For the first time, a junction of psychological research, musicology, pedagogics, fine arts, and music was successfully performed. Furthermore, intense studies of several hundred publications provided a first overview of early research on synaesthesia. During the 1930s, however, due to political changes in Germany, research on synaesthesia was misvalued to be inappropriate. Anschütz tried to move the focus towards common approaches, such as the up-coming soundtracks for films. Nonetheless, activities were stopped mid of the decade, and any documents of the supposed fourth congress are missing except an agenda.
The congresses which took place can be seen as role models for recent events, for which the world had to wait more than 50 years. Activities reached a high scientific standard which was exceeded beyond that not until the end of the 20th century. Although synaesthetic phenomena have been much more understood now, question on the relation to common ways of multisensory perception still remain unanswered.
This contribution exemplifies the role and work of synaesthetic artists involved. What were the basic concepts related to synaesthetic and common ways of perception? Was synaesthesia reported differently during that time?
Greg Jarvis, Durham College, Toronto, Canada
Meetings Of Synesthetic Minds
Between 2013 and the pandemic, the Canadian Synesthesia Association held monthly synesthete-only meet ups. All were conducted in-person with no agendas, fees, formalities, or note taking. Six to a dozen synesthetes would simply gather and talk with each other in free-flowing group conversations lasting three to four hours at a time.
Often the meetings resembled salons where synesthetes of divergent forms and disciplines would discuss synesthesia in relation to the arts, philosophy, theology, astrology, psychology, history, quantum physics, string theory, medicine, sports, mathematics, consciousness studies, the time-space continuum and the paranormal.
Topics of conversation included how different forms of synesthesia can be put to use, pairings of synesthesia with other neurocognitive differences such as autism and ADHD, the viewpoints of disabled synesthetes, the influence of synesthesia on creative processes, acquired synesthesia vs. congenital synesthesia, synesthesia and substance use/abuse, living life with 'non-standard' brains, benefits and drawbacks of eidetic memory, the influence of synesthesia on the artistic tastes of synesthetes, and more.
Over time, a sort of support group function evolved with attendees discussing complex & sensitive aspects of their synesthesia with people who could relate rather than question. The core of the group became experienced at helping others verbalize their synesthesia and understand it better.
Having organized & attended all of the meetings, I'd like to present a summation of the highlights of them. I'll also report upon the overall experiences and takeaways, including the sense of enhanced synesthesia & connectedness that the group repeatedly noticed and came to call, 'the Syniisphere'.
Alexandra Kirschner and Pascal Acker, Alexandra Kirschner Voice teacher Aurelius Sängerknaben Calw; Pascal Acker, Endress+Hauser Liquid Analysis, Germany
Exploring Synesthesia: A Documentary on Konzeptthesia
"Konzeptthesia" is a short documentary film by Pascal Acker and Alexandra Kirschner with experimental scenes in which Danko Nikolic is interviewed about the origin and development of synaesthesia. He argues that it is not direct connections in the brain but the meaning of a letter, sound, word, etc., that elicit synaesthesia. The film is intended to show that synaesthesia can be more than the result of crossed senses or neural connections that have to be established from birth. The activation of concepts already triggers synaesthesia in synaesthetic children in order to understand the meaning of a day of the week or a letter. Danko Nikolic therefore suggests that the term Ideasthesia, which means "perceiving concepts, ideas", would be a more appropriate term for this phenomenon. Therefore, synaesthesia may be a phenomenon of semantics-being driven by the process of understanding the world and extracting the meaning. Dealing with the phenomenon of synaesthesia can help us to further open the window to our inner world.
Trini Krpan, University College London, UK
Trini Krpan1, Qinxin Xie1, Yizhi Wang1, University College London
Taste of Memories: A VR Journey into Synaesthesia
This is a proposal to present a VR immersive experience exploring synaesthesia. Step into the remarkable world of James, a middle-aged man graced with lexical-gustatory synaesthesia, a condition that allows him to taste colours, sounds, names, and words. In 'Taste of Memories,' we accompany James on a sensory adventure through the London Underground, where he's not just navigating the city but tasting his memories, and we become part of this extraordinary journey. As he 'tastes' the vibrant tube station colours, sounds, names, and associated words, the mundane becomes magical. This piece isn't merely a visual interpretation; it's a tantalizing exploration of sensory boundaries, an invitation to experience London's rushed environment as a delicious symphony of flavours, sounds, names, and words. Through James' world, we are reminded, that in order to be in a present moment, we must let memories coordinate us through uncertainty in order to feel the moment.
David Luke, University of Greenwich, UK
Psychedelic-induced synaesthesia: Five studies
David Luke1 & Devin Terhune2, 1The Psychedelic and Exceptional Experience Lab, Centre for Mental Health, School of Human Sciences, University of Greenwich, UK; 2Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, UK
The neurobiology of synaesthesia is receiving growing attention in the search for insights into consciousness, such as the binding problem. The cognitive processes and phenomenology of congenital synaesthesia has been much explored, yet very little systematic research exists concerning the phenomenology and cognitive neuroscience of psychedelically-induced experiences, despite the recent renaissance in psychedelic research and seemingly common experience of a kind of transient synaesthesia with psychedelics.
To that end this presentation reports on a number of such studies exploring psychedelic synaesthesia conducted by the authors and their colleagues throughout the last decade, and constituting most of the very few recent extant studies. Results are presented from a systematic review of psychedelic synaesthesia research, along with findings from an online survey into the prevalence, type and frequency of naturalistic psychedelic synaesthesia experiences, in addition to the report of an experimental attempt to establish sound-colour and grapheme-colour synaesthesia in a placebo-controlled trial of LSD.
Furthermore, data is presented from research with a relatively rare case study of someone reporting permanently induced synaesthesia following the ingestion of an accidentally large dose of the psychedelic drug 2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromophenethylamine (2C-B). The participant reported consistent emotional face-colour synaesthesia in the seven years since his psychedelic experience and was tested against a control group using a stroop face-colour paradigm and was found to exhibit both consistency and automaticity. However, a subsequent study exploring mechanisms using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) did not reveal any differential primary visual cortex excitability compared to a control group. The implications of this body of research for understanding both drug-induced and congenital synaesthesia, and consciousness research more generally, is discussed.
Maura McDonnell, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Composing Colours and Motion
How can one approach the ephemerality of colour and both control it so as to create a coherent artwork but also allow the power of colour to have freedom where it can move, fill, empty itself and reform into something new. What kinds of choices does an artist need to make and what kind of sensory experience does the artist experience when composing with colour and crafting motion.
Maura will share her experience of composing with colour and motion and her strategies of composition and also her strategies for teaching students to handle such ephemereal things in the crafting of their own work.
Beat Meier, University of Bern, Switzerland
Hypnagogic experiences are more prevalent in synaesthesia
Beat Meier1 & Romain Ghibellini1, 1University of Bern, Switzerland
The hypnagogic state refers to the transition between wakefulness and sleep. During this transition vivid perceptual experiences can occur without external stimulation. In a recent large-scale questionnaire study, we found that this state is quite common in the general population (a prevalence of 80%, N > 4000). Moreover, it is characterized by a unique modality profile with frequent kinesthetic and visual experiences and less frequent auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory experiences. Compared to dreams, the hypnagogic state has a somewhat lower prevalence and a different modality profile. Interestingly, the frequency of hypnagogic experiences was correlated with unusual perceptions. Given that synaesthetic experiences can also be considered as unusual perceptions, in the present study, we used the same questionnaire, first in a large group of self-styled synaesthetes (N > 1000). The results revealed that the prevalence of hypnagogic experiences was higher than in the general population, and this was particularly true for participants with grapheme-colour synaesthesia. In a follow-up study, we included a consistency test for the grapheme-colour pairings as an objective measure in another group of grapheme-colour synaesthetes (N = 167). Importantly, we replicated these findings. We will discuss these results with respect to their impact for the understanding of the hypnagogic state and for theories of synaesthesia.
Helena Melero, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
Motor Cognition and Synesthesia: Beyond the Senses
Synesthesia, is a unique perceptual phenomenon where stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second pathway. While much research has focused on the cross-modal associations within the senses, this presentation delves into the intersection of synesthesia with motor cognition, extending the boundaries of our understanding of the phenomenon beyond sensory domains. Recent advancements in neuroscience have unveiled the intricate connections between sensory processing, motor execution and cognition/emotion, highlighting the integrated nature of these functions. In this context, I will discuss synesthesias that include sensorimotor components (inducers and/or concurrents) and the bidirectional relationship between motor actions and synesthetic perceptions: How does the execution of motor tasks influence the synesthetic experiences, and conversely, how do synesthetic perceptions shape motor cognition? Through the analysis of these interactions, my objective is to present its possible neural substrates and elucidate any adaptive advantages that may arise from synesthetic-motor connections. This analysis may open new avenues for research into the complex interplay between sensory perception and motor action, and the implementation of its potential functional benefits in clinical contexts.
Janina Neufeld, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Janina Neufeld1, Hjalmar Nobel Norrman2, Manuel Oliva1, Tessa van Leeuwen 3,4
1Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Centre for Psychiatry Research, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm Health Care Services, Region Stockholm, 11364 Stockholm, Sweden; 2Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS), 75238 Uppsala, Sweden; 3Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences, Department of Communication and Cognition, Tilburg University, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands; 4Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, 6525 XZ Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Synaesthesia, perception, and mental health - how are they linked? Investigating the genetic and environmental influences in twins
Synaesthesia has been linked to a range of mental health conditions and neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric traits. In addition, it is associated with an overall perceptual profile that resembles that of people on the autism spectrum (e.g. hyper-sensitivity and attention to detail). Synaesthesia is, however, also associated with enhanced memory, mental imagery and creativity and - in people on the autism spectrum - with extraordinary talent. In the current study, we use two different twin design approaches to better understand the associations between synaesthesia and mental health, detail-oriented perception and cognitive benefits. In a large population twin cohort, we found that individual differences in self-reported synaesthesia were partially (<50%) genetic, while their association with self-reported autistic traits was primarily (>70%) genetic. Furthermore, our preliminary findings from this cohort indicate that synaesthesia also correlates with a range of other self-reported mental-health related traits, of these most strongly with obsessive-compulsive traits.
In a smaller sample of selected twins discordant or concordant for sequence-colour synaesthesia (as verified by a standard synaesthesia consistency test) and neurotypical control twins, we are further investigating perception and cognition with extensive test batteries, partly combined with brain imaging and /or eye tracking. The preliminary findings of the study indicate that grapheme-colour synaesthesia is associated with a more detail-oriented perceptual style even when implicitly adjusting for a large proportion of genetic and environmental factors, but is this effect is strongly task-dependent.
I will present an overview of our synaesthesia research approaches in twins, including both preliminary and published findings and discuss how they can potentially help us to better understand the burden, the benefit, and the aetiology synaesthesia.
Abiola Ogunsanwo, Founder Synesthesia Society of Africa
Abiola Ogunsanwo1, Celsus Sente2 1Founder Synesthesia Society of Africa; 2Makerere University, Uganda
Strategies for promoting awareness of synesthesia in Africa
In Africa, synesthesia is considered unusual; most individuals are oblivious to this neurocognitive trait. Over the last 2 decades, there has been significant progress in community awareness of synesthesia, yet there are still major gaps globally, particularly in developing nations. In Africa, so few people understand synesthesia that even individuals who have the trait may not know what it is. A preliminary informal investigation in Sub-Saharan Africa found that a few medical and other healthcare workers know the term synesthesia, but don't comprehend the trait in a broader context. To help overcome this knowledge gap, the Synesthesia Society of Africa (SSOA) was recently formed to assist in the formulation of initiatives for advancing synesthesia understanding throughout Africa. In 2021, the SSOA hosted its first online symposium, which was attended by individuals from several African countries along with an international audience from 26 countries. Currently, The SSOA is working to lift synesthesia out of obscurity, through our focus on discovery, awareness, research, and outreach. Promoting awareness of synesthesia in Africa involves a multifaceted approach that considers cultural sensitivities, educational channels, and community engagement. Here are some strategies to raise awareness: 1. Cultural Sensitivity, 2. Education and Workshops, 3. Online Platforms, 4. Partnerships with Healthcare Professionals, 5. Community Events, 6. Media Outreach, 7. Collaboration with NGOs and Advocacy Groups, 8. Feedback and Adaptation
Maike Preißing, Psychologist, Neurodiversity Coach, Synaesthesia Artist and Podcast Host
"Let's Talk Synesthesia" Live Podcast Episode
What is it like to live with synesthesia? What do we know about synesthesia from a scientific point of view? "Let's Talk Synesthesia" (the only synesthesia podcast out there) is hosted by Maike Preißing and dives into the world of synesthetes. Maike is a neurodivergent psychologist and synesthesia artist. She supports neurodivergent adults in her private practice and shares her life as an autistic poly-synaesthete online. Her podcast "Let's Talk Synesthesia" is a place where synesthetes, scientists, artists and medical professionals from all around the world come together to explore and explain the condition.
Avery Raquel, Berklee College of Music, Valencia, Spain
Synesthesia in the Creative Process - Creating music with colour
As a synesthete, and a singer/songwriter, I set out to determine, employing my Master's Degree thesis, how my chromesthesia could be used as a tool affecting creativity. Through exploration, I conducted collaborative exercises with my peers to investigate how other creatives, some Synesthetes, and some not, interpret and conceptualize music.
Songwriters typically compose based on emotion, lyrics, melody, harmony, and rhythm. By adding a visual component, colour, based on my associations, I am able to change the creative process through a mix of sound and perception, shaping an interesting form of musical expression through sensory experiences.
This presentation, using performance and visuals, will highlight some of my findings, along with my synaesthetic concomitance, as it relates to the creation of original work. I will explore how the perception of certain chord qualities creates a colour palette and linked to the lyrical form can solidify related symbolism, thus providing a new process in collaborative and individual composition.
Nicholas Root, University of Amsterdam
Nicholas Root1, Romke Rouw1, The Cross-Language Synesthesia Consortium1
1Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam
How language shapes grapheme-color associations: insights from a large international study of synesthetes in over 20 of the world's languages
Grapheme-color synesthetes experience linguistic symbols (e.g., letters of the alphabet), as having consistent, specific colors. These colors are not random - they are shaped by numerous factors, many of them related to properties of the synesthete's language. Researchers have asserted that grapheme-color synesthesia is not merely a perceptual phenomenon, but also a psycholinguistic one: synesthetic associations plausibly reflect the computations and mental representations that underlie the reading process. However, a persistent barrier to understanding the psycholinguistic aspect of grapheme-color synesthesia is that the vast majority of synesthesia studies used English-speaking participants.
The Cross-Language Synesthesia Consortium is a collaboration between dozens of synesthesia researchers around the world, with the dual aim of using language as a tool to study synesthesia, and using synesthesia as a tool to study language. Employing a translation-backtranslation-reconciliation procedure, we systematically translated our synesthesia experiment into over twenty languages. The experiment includes a consistency test inspired by the Eagleman Battery, a linguistic history questionnaire, and several synesthesia questionnaires (e.g., projector/associator).
We collected data from over a thousand synesthetes and age-matched non-synesthete controls. We also collected additional data to study the regulatory factors that influence which grapheme gets linked to which synesthetic color: semantic associations for letters (the "index route"), pronunciation similarity (derived from Phoible and the Leipzig Corpora), and visual similarity (from a neural network model of human vision). We now present these data for the first time - the culmination of nearly eight years of research.
We highlight three results that illustrate our dataset's capabilities: (1) the unusual opacity of English orthography caused past research to underestimate the influence of pronunciation on synesthetic color, (2) sub-graphemic features (accents, vowel signs in abugidas, etc.) influence synesthetic color in a predictable fashion, (3) our computational model can predict synesthetes' color associations, based on the properties of their language.
Romke Rouw, University of Amsterdam
Can you touch red? Cross-modal 'translation' of visual features into tactile surface properties
Rouw, R.1, Root, N.1, Vreugdenhil, N.1, deHaan, E.H.F1,2; 1Brain & Cognition, Dept. of Psychology, University of Amsterdam; 2Donders Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen
In principle, for each possible pair of cross-sensations a different type of synesthesia might exist. Currently, however, our understanding of synesthesia predominantly stems from research on only a few synesthesia types. Indeed, in general the wealth of knowledge concerning visual and auditory processes stands in stark contrast to our knowledge concerning perceptual processes in other modalities: for example, we are only beginning to understand how a particular (physical) surface property produces a particular (perceptual) tactile sensation such as "softness" or "stickiness".
A plausible explanation for this discrepancy is that tactile perception is more difficult to systematically study and manipulate. Psychology laboratories generally have the equipment and knowledge to present precisely controlled visual and auditory stimuli, but a tactile equivalent (offering precisely calibrated material properties) does not yet exist.
We recently initiated a collaboration with a nanoengineering lab, enabling us to create bespoke haptic materials with precise variations along orthogonal physical dimensions, and explore the perceptual responses to these materials. Using these materials, we can characterize explicit and implicit tactile-to-color associations in synesthetes and non-synesthetes, discovering whether classic synesthetic characteristics (consistency effects, "Stroop"-like automaticity, etc.) replicate in this lesser-known type of synesthesia.
Results from this project reveal associations between surface properties (e.g. soft, rough, tacky or cold) and visual (color) properties. Crucially, these associations are not random: there are reliable mediating processes (e.g., semantic, linguistic, or emotional) that influence which surface gets which color. For example, emotional valence (e.g. 'pleasantness') is a reliable predictor of the colors linked to tactile sensations. By modeling these processes together, we thus systematically map out the relationship between physical material properties, corresponding tactile perception, and elicited color associations.
We conclude by offering potential applications of our research, in particular a tactile-color sensory substitution device for the blind.
Chhavi Sachdeva1, Emily Whelan2, 1UniDistance Suisse, 2University of Sussex
How perceptual ability shapes memory: An investigation in healthy special populations
Chhavi Sachdeva1*, Emily Whelan2*, Rebecca Ovalle-Fresa1, Nicolas Rothen1**, and Jamie Ward2** 1Faculty of Psychology, UniDistance Suisse, Brig, Switzerland; 2School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK*; Chhavi Sachdeva and Emily Whelan contributed equally to this work.
** These authors share joint last authorship.
In research, perception and memory have been considered largely separable domains of cognition. However, recent studies involving individuals with grapheme-colour synaesthesia and colour expertise suggest a closer connection between visual perceptual ability and memory than previously thought. Research also shows a unique profile of enhanced memory and perception in these groups, with synaesthetes and experts being better at perceiving colours and spatial contrasts, as well as remembering the spatial arrangement and colour of objects, compared to the general population. In two studies, we aim to take this research a step further by comprehensively comparing the perception and memory abilities of synaesthetes to special non-synaesthetic groups (colour experts, spatial experts, and the non-synaesthetic relatives of synaesthetes). We use visual perception, short-term memory, and long-term memory tasks with colour and location manipulations to investigate this aim. The first study, presented by Chavvi Sachdeva, will involve participants possessing characteristics of grapheme-color synesthaesia, colour expertise, sequence-space synaesthesia, and/or spatial expertise to distinguish the impact of these four experimental conditions on perception and memory. The second study, presented by Emily Whelan, will compare the cognitive profile of three groups: synaesthetes, non-synaesthetic relatives of synaesthetes, and non-synaesthetic non-relative controls. By comparing how well the colour versus location of images is perceived and remembered by these groups, we can better understand the processes underlying perception and memory. We can also examine whether having a specific type of synaesthesia or expertise leads to selective (i.e., colour or spatial only) or general cognitive enhancements. Overall, results from these two studies will contribute empirical evidence towards theoretical accounts of perception and memory, such as the representational model which suggests a closer connection between perception and memory processes.
Pau Sandham, Publisher The Synesthesia Tree
Dancing Tastes in Spain Reporting, classifying, experiencing and expressing taste-to-shape synesthesia
Although taste-to-shape is one of the more uncommon types of synesthesia (probably experienced by under 5% of synesthetes), it is one of the most surprising and enigmatic and has had its own special place in history ever since it was reported by Richard E. Cytowic in "The Man who Tasted Shapes", the book that launched our subject into the deep sea of mainstream science in 1993.
So how is it experienced? Is it visual? Is it tactile? Or do sight and touch really have any boundaries in this case? And if they don't, or if those boundaries are just... different... how do you go about explaining that? Where does emotion come into it, and why is it so important? Would proprioception perhaps be the right word to describe the interaction of these endlessly replicating geometric figures in the mind and body of a taste-shape synesthete?
Pau has this type of synesthesia and has studied it in depth, making contact with others who have similar experiences and often helping them discover the trait. She has also discovered the irrepressible nature of dance as a way of capturing most of the array of synesthetic taste concurrents and would like to show you some of her spontaneous choreographic creations. She considers it a medium easily understood by non-synesthetes, through their own consciously perceived cross-modal correspondences.
Two short videos will be played, recorded in different locations in Pau's home town Seville as she samples and choreographs different foods and drinks, capturing their shape, size, colour, texture, attitude, position, movement, direction and emotion. Also, through brief case studies, she will outline the different ways taste-to-shape synesthesia manifests in different people, addressing subjects such as the first realisations of the phenomenon and how taste-to-shape synesthetes can encounter problems in childhood that others find impossible to understand.
George Scott, Acquired Synesthete
Acquired Synesthesia: A Firsthand Perspective
In 2007, I had a stroke at the age of 42. The following year while watching the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in my living room, I was suddenly rodeo-riding soundwaves and tasting the colours of the Peking Opera performers. Panic and dread engulfed me as I anticipated a descent into psychosis or worse. But upon mentioning the experience to a neurologist, I was told I had "acquired synesthesia".
Many fMRI studies were performed on me, revealing a pea sized scar between my cerebral cortexes. As my brain rewired itself, I'd developed multiple forms of synesthesia tied to taste, hearing, scent and more - including having synesthetic responses triggered by synesthetic responses.
The new sensations were sometimes overwhelming to adjust to, and out of necessity I developed the ability to turn off or at least dial down the volume of my synesthesias. I could then drive confidently again, without seeing or feeling the honking of car horns.
Meeting other synesthetes from the Canadian Synesthesia Association allowed my acquired synesthesia to flourish in a safe space, through discussing it with natural-born synesthetes. If I'd been told about synesthesia prior to my stroke, I would have thought I understood it - but now having synesthesia, I realize I wouldn't have been grasping what it really is.
After my past sixteen years of life as a synesthete, I would never want to return to the flatness of living without it - even if that meant regaining the use of the right side of my body as it once was. I didn't just acquire synesthesia; I acquired a quantum of insight into the world around me and within me.
In my presentation, I'll share the perplexing, majestic, and life-altering journey that my acquired synesthesia has taken me on, along with the traps and pitfalls I've learned to navigate along the way.
Jasmin Rani Sinha, Coach for synaesthesia, giftedness, and high sensitivity
Tailored Coaching for Synaesthetes
In this presentation, I will offer a first-hand account of a synaesthete coach working with synaesthetic individuals, emphasizing the necessity for specialized coaching.
Synaesthesia, an intriguing neurological phenomenon where one sensory or cognitive pathway involuntarily triggers experiences in another, presents unique challenges and opportunities for individuals possessing this distinctive trait. Importantly, synaesthesia is not a pathology and, in most cases, does not necessitate intervention or therapy. While many synaesthetes find their perceptions pleasant, motivating, and inspiring, certain synaesthesia types, such as mirror-pain, can be excessively stressful. An unsupportive environment, neglecting the nature of synaesthesia, may cause individuals to question themselves rather than their surroundings. Additionally, perception intensity is a crucial factor that may prompt overwhelmed synaesthetes to seek coaching support.
Departing from traditional coaching paradigms, coaching synaesthetes demands innovative methodologies, acknowledging the intricate interplay of heightened sensory perceptions. A tailored coaching approach will address coping mechanisms and strategies to transform challenging synaesthetic experiences into enriching tools that give control back to the concerned synaesthetes. Acknowledging the complexities of synaesthetic experiences and their correlation with high sensitivity and giftedness, this presentation will delve into the unique needs of synaesthetes. Traditional coaching methods tend to prove insufficient for synaesthetes with super-deep perceptions and high giftedness. Understanding the relationship between synaesthesia and high sensitivity becomes crucial in assessing the impact of synaesthetic perceptions on an individual. Moreover, the concept of "slow coaching" is reconsidered, acknowledging that individuals with deeply gifted minds and rapid processing speeds advance intellectually much faster than traditional coaching approaches suggest.
The ultimate goal of tailored coaching for synaesthetes is to cultivate a supportive environment for their unique cognitive experiences, aligning with their distinct needs.
Christine Söffing, Head of the EMU-Ensemble, Ulm University, Germany
Red Sounds, pink taste and maygreen fragrances, Visual Artworks and soundscapes
The lecture uses painted sounds in comparison to painted scents and painted tastes to show the synaesthetic-visual differences between synaesthetically perceived sound sculptures and synaesthetically perceived taste and scent sculptures.
Bei Song, Harbin Conservatory of Music, China
Bei Song1 and Tianchi Luan1 1Harbin Conservatory of Music, China
Mechanisms and Effects of Audio-Visual Synesthesia in the Aesthetic Process
Synesthesia is a common psychological phenomenon in the process of artistic aesthetics. During the process of artistic aesthetics, the auditory and visual sensory systems often process and integrate various aesthetic information in a default cognitive processing mode of the brain to support the entire aesthetic process. Although synesthesia has been considered a potential artistic perception and an important factor in promoting deepening aesthetic experience, the reasons and mechanisms behind it remain to be explored.
This study aims to explore in depth the related mechanisms and effects of auditory-visual synesthesia in the process of artistic aesthetic processing by analyzing the connectivity of the auditory-visual aesthetic sensory physiological system and combining the research results of neuroaesthetics. The study found that there is extensive interaction and connectivity between the auditory and visual aesthetic sensory systems at multiple physiological levels such as neural fibers and brain cortex, which enables the existence of universal auditory-visual cross-modal experience phenomena in artistic aesthetic activities. Moreover, the auditory-visual synesthesia mechanism and the artistic aesthetic mechanism have a certain overlap at the neural level, which is reflected in the sharing of specific brain functional areas when both are processed. This reflects that synesthesia can promote aesthetic creation and deepen aesthetic experience by stabilizing the structural connections of various brain regions in the human brain, improving functional connectivity efficiency, and using the prefrontal cortex, medial parietal cortex, and default mode network of the brain as intermediaries. The research suggests that the interaction between synesthesia and aesthetic mechanisms can provide experience for the construction of synesthetic systems, thereby providing more possibilities for the richness and stability of synesthetic experiences.
This study reveals that future researchers can further investigate the interaction between synesthetic processing and aesthetic responses, explore whether art training or aesthetic experience will affect the processing and experience of individual synesthesia, and further clarify the neural mechanisms of synesthesia.
Carol Steen, Touro University, New York City
Synesthetic Photisms, Hypnagogic, and Hypnapomic Visions: An Updated Comparison
I've been a synesthete my entire life and have a comprehensive understanding of my synesthetic perceptions. But in 2013 I suddenly began to see hypnagogic visions. These visions, not studied in conjunction with synesthesia, were originally so concerning to me that I shared my new experiences with researchers whose responses varied widely, from concern to recognition of similar occurrences.
Hypnagogic images are a normal state of consciousness that occurs between being awake and falling asleep. Hypnapomic images occur between being asleep and waking up. While hypnagogia is known to be more frequently experienced than synesthesia, I believe there is a need for discussion regarding the potential connections between all of these visions.
In my paper, I will compare the visual parallels and distinctions between my synesthetic photisms, hypnagogic, and hypnapomic visions. I will compare the triggers, or their absence, as well as the range of colors, lines, shapes, geometric patterns, symmetry, and speed of movements observed. I'll explore when my hypnagogic images began, how they changed over time, stopped, and the recent start of my hypnapomic visions. My hypnapomic visions differ in several ways from my hypnagogic images. For one thing, they do not have color, only a range of greys and blacks.
Additionally, I'll discuss my creative approaches in working digitally with these sources of imagery and note instances where synesthetic photisms and hypnagogic and hypnapomic visions coalesce in a single experience. I will also show works by fellow synesthetes who have reported experiencing hypnagogic images.
Jennifer Stevenson, Trent University, Ontario, Canada, Fleming College Peterborough, Canada
The Summer Months are Behind Me (literally): A First-Hand Account of Time-Space Synaesthesia
Time-space synaesthetes experience days, weeks, or months (calendar forms) as occupying physical space in relation to their bodies; these associations can even be coloured (Cytowic & Eagleman, 2009); for example, perhaps April is light yellow, which, of course, is correct. And as is true for all forms of synaesthesia, the associations are enduring and idiosyncratic.
Time-space synaesthesia is often associated with superior memory recall, particularly for autobiographical information (Rothen, Meier & Ward, 2012). From a very young age, I knew my memory was better than everyone around me, including adults. I know every phone number, birth date, address, and even the parents' license plates of the people I grew up with. One day in 2012, when I was 29 years old, I watched a program called 'Weird or What?' hosted by William Shatner because the topic was individuals with superior memories, just like me. The program featured people who could "see" the months of the year around their bodies, just like I could. The catch was these experiences were considered atypical, different from how most people in the world experience time. These people had synaesthesia, and so did I.
Join me while I recount the discovery of my synaesthesia, including the first time I saw a calendar that was not my own, drawing my calendar for the first time, and how I ultimately came to research the phenomenon that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember (which is a long time). I will end with my theory of the mechanisms behind the superior autobiographical memory observed in time-space synaesthetes.
Nancy Weekly, Curator, Head of Collections, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, New York
Charles Burchfield's Synesthetic Art Legacy
The renowned American painter Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967) was unwittingly a synesthetic artist who revealed his unique ability to sense-and paint-sounds and smells. In 1914, he wrote: "all my senses are well developed even to several others not mentioned in the physiology," sensing that he was different. He expressed his unnamed synesthesia more explicitly in 1915: "Yesterday morning while on my way to school in the rain, I marked that the color of autumn seems to have come all at once - Walking under the trees I felt as if the color made sound -" For more than fifty years, he created hundreds of artworks that continue to thrill audiences today.
Synesthesia is often a hereditary gift. Burchfield's youngest daughter, Catherine Parker (1926-2012) also perceived sound within a visual dimension and shared his appreciation of music. Becoming a cellist as well as an artist, she produced paintings that were inspired by, or in "response to," music by composers identified as synesthetic, such as her father's favorite, Jean Sibelius, whose music reflects a dynamic Finnish Northland. Parker also responded to French composer Olivier Messiaen, who heard musical chords as specific colors that express his spirituality and love of nature.
After my initial presentation at the American Synesthesia Association conference held in Hamilton, Ontario in 2008, synesthetes, neuroscientists, and art historians confirmed that my written and visual documentation illustrated Burchfield's synesthetic perceptions. Subsequently, my exploration resulted in museum exhibition collaborations and presentations at international ASA conferences in St. Catherine's and Toronto, Ontario, as well as to arts audiences in the U.S. and Brazil.
Now my field of inquiry has broadened to investigate artists practicing today who either identify with Burchfield as fellow synesthetes or are inspired by the sensory dynamism of his art to inform their own practice. This presentation focuses on Burchfield and his synesthetic legacy.
Ninghui Xiong, Painting Music Art Synaesthesia Studio, China
Ninghui Xiong1, Tianchi Luan2, Bei Song2 1Painting Music Art Synaesthesia Studio, China; 2Harbin Conservatory of Music, China
An Outlook on Birdsong/Flower Fragrance Experimental Synaesthesia Paintings and their Aesthetic / Somatic Significance
The singing of birds and fragrance of flowers symbolize a yearning for a better life. The purpose of the study is to demonstrate the spiritual experience, which is beyond description, through birdsong/flower fragrance synesthesia paintings.
By making 75 types/groups of experiment for birdsongs and animal songs and 16 groups of experiment for seasonal flower fragrance (2/3 of them has been published), artist Ninghui Xiong has established a set of heuristic experimental painting models. Its aim is to guide more audience to participate, including non-synesthetes.
For birdsongs, he found that the synaesthesia of color and texture (triggered by pitch and timbre of birdsongs) and auditory-kinetic synesthesia (from the rhythm and melody) can be better expressed by oil painting as media. For flower fragrance, he studied the olfactory-visual synaesthesia of flower fragrance - its smell-colour (derived from the "texture" of flower fragrance related to type of family), as well as its smell-shape (the reaction of flower fragrance to the body) and found that water colour is preferable.
Based on the description of the artist and audience's feedback (both readers and participants), the author and his collaborators analyzed the internal aesthetic process and the corresponding physical and mental responses and found the positive significance and practical value of the activity on individual sensory ability, synaesthesia awareness, improvement of aesthetic experience, and balance of physical and mental states.
Experimental synesthesia painting activity is not only different from the traditional meaning of the exhibition, but also different from the general behavioral performance. More importantly, it strengthens the close connection between human and nature, which is lacking nowadays.
Effie Zografou Elgabry, American Community School of Athens, Greece
Diary of a Synaesthete: Entries of the past and present
Imagine seeing yourself, standing on a track. But you're not there to exercise, that's how you experience time. Let me explain. The beginning is always in December. And from there, you move, month-to-month, like a train and its stations - across time. I can go back on time in previous months. If this resonates with you, you may have spatial colour synaesthesia like me. Spatial -Sequence & Time-Space Synaesthesia is visualising certain sequences in physical space.
Spatial-colour Synaesthesia is an exceptional feeling. It is like time has shape and colour while at the same time these images themselves always have a topographic position.
I also have Grapheme colour Synaesthesia and Personification as a multi-lingual. My day begins with a splash of colour as I welcome the day in different languages: Good Morning, Kalimera, Guten Morgen, Sabagh El Kheer - each language a colour-coded palette, which means all letters, words, days of week, numbers, months, years, thoughts have a colour. All different and with Personalities and Characters. I live in my very own Disney Land, but not as a vacation, as my everyday life reality show.
While this may seem a magical unique experience, it can sometimes have both positive and challenging aspects in daily life. For example, seeing colours associated with time, might give you emotionally richer and fulfilling experience. On the other hand, seeing colours associated to letters and numbers might cause confusion like forgetting where you parked your car because you thought you left it at bay "B-3" (blue in my mind-eye), but soon realizing it is painted in GREEN!!!
And my diary goes on and on. Join me in this personal journey of an associator spatial-grapheme-colour multi-lingual synesthete where I share my special experiences and world view with you.
Marco Barilari, Institute of Neuroscience, Institute for Research in Psychological Sciences Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Barilari Marco1, Mohamed Rezk1, Jamie Ward2, Olivier Collignon1,3 1Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS) and Institute for Research in Psychological Sciences (IPSY), Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium; 2School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK; 3HES-SO Valais-Walis; The Sense Innovation and Research Center, Lausanne and Sion, Switzerland
Exploring change in brain connectivity between auditory and visual regions in Hearing-Motion Synesthesia
Adriana Chachi, Lima, Peru
Experimental induction of synesthesia and its relationship with attentional capacity
Aurore Dupont-Sagorin, Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker
Exploring Mirror-Pain Synesthesia: A Personal Journey and Documentary Perspective
Sayaka Harashima, University of Tokyo, Japan
Investigating characteristics of cross-modal semantic processing in synaesthetes
Evelynn Harra, California College of the Arts Visual and Critical Studies, San Francisco
Applying the lens and language of synesthesia to artwork
Hillgruber, Katrin Journalist and literary critic, Munich, Germany
"It is humid, but I am violet." From Richard Wagner to Bruno Schulz to Hélène Grimaud: Synaesthesia in European Music, Art and Literature
Sofie Jespersen, Aalborg University, Denmark
Sofie Imer Jespersen1, Aurore Zelazny1,2, Thomas Alrik Sørensen1,2,3 1Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department for Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark; 2Sino-Danish College (SDC), University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China; 3Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit, Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Exploring Colour-Shape Associations: Individual Variation in Colour Preferences
Ann LePore, Ramapo College of New Jersey, United States
Visual Experiences in Place of Language Gaps - Hahn's Synesthetic Experience of Loom
Luke Lucas, London Metropolitan University, UK
Do Synaesthetes Experience Multiple Cross-Modal Correspondences? Particularly Between Sound, Shape and Emotion?
Cristóbal C. Martinez G., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
Functional Synaesthesias: A Synaesthetic Approach to Understanding the Relationship Between Music and Architecture
Stefan Moredal, Aalborg University, Denmark
Stefan Moredal1, Thomas Alrik Sørensen1,2,3, Aurore Zelazny1,2 1Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department for Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark; 2Sino-Danish College (SDC), University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China; 3Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit, Center for Functional Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Investigating whether colours can facilitate notational sight-reading acquisition
Valeria Perboni, Brunel University, London, UK
Dominik Havsteen-Franklin11 1Brunel University, London, UK
Exploring the Role of Arts in Facilitating Synaesthetic Experiences: Implications for Relationality and Cross-Modal Perception
Svetlana Rudenko, Concert Pianist, Composer, and Concept Designer
De Chirico: Metaphysical Art MR – Methodology for Multisensory Audio Visual Composition in Mixed Reality
Mamoru Watanabe, University of Bristol, UK
Synaesthesia in Human-Computer Interaction: Exploring Design Possibilities
Aurore Zelazny, Aalborg University, Denmark
Aurore Zelazny1,2, Xun Liu3, Thomas Alrik Sørensen1,2,4 1Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department for Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark; 2Sino-Danish College (SDC), University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China; 3Department of Psychology, University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China; 4Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit, Center for Functional Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Performances on the synesthesia Stroop task in associator synesthetes and non-synesthetes
Yijia Zhang, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Yijia Zhang1, Nicholas Root1 1Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Amsterdam
Putting the (Colored) Pieces Together: The Multicolored Synesthetic Experience of Chinese Characters