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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers help find that hypnosis can induce synesthesia
Date:10/23/2008

NEW YORK, Oct. 23, 2008 -- Hypnosis can induce "synesthetic" experiences where one sense triggers the involuntary use of another within an average brain, according to a new study in the journal Psychological Science, the premiere publication of the Association for Psychological Society.

The findings suggests that people with synesthesia, contrary to popular belief, do not necessarily have extra connections in their brain; rather, their brains may simply do more 'cross talking' which can be induced by changing inhibitory processes in the average brain.

The research, "Induced cross-modal synesthetic experience without abnormal neuronal connections," was conducted by an international group that includes Cohen Kadosh, previously a doctoral student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev under the supervision of Prof. Avishai Henik from BGU's Department of Psychology and now at the University College London (UCL); Andres Catena from the University of Granada, Spain; Vincent Walsh from the UCL; and Luis J. Fuentes from University of Murcia, Spain.

People living with synesthesia (known as synesthetes) experience abnormal interactions between the senses. Digit-color synesthesia, for instance, will experience certain numbers in specific colors (for example, they might experience the number seven as red). A possible reason put forward for this phenomenon is the existence of extra connections between brain areas in synesthesia, but this new study suggests otherwise.

To explore the alternative theory of more cross talk (disinhibition) between brain areas in synesthetes, Cohen Kadosh and colleagues used posthypnotic suggestion to show that people who are not synesthetes can be induced to have synesthetic experiences.

After inducing digit-color synesthesia, the volunteers reported similar experiences to those undergone by real synesthetes in their everyday life. For example, one participant described her experienc
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Contact: Andrew Lavin
andrewlavin@alavin.com
212-290-9540
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Source:Eurekalert

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