Navigation Links
New insight into people who 'see' colors in letters and numbers

People with a form of synesthesia in which they see colors when viewing letters and numbers really do see colors, researchers, led by Edward M. Hubbard of the University of California San Diego, have found. What's more, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of their brains reveals that they show activation of color-perception areas.

The researchers said their findings lend support to the hypothesis that the condition is due to cross-activation between adjacent brain areas involved in perceiving shapes and colors. Some synesthetes report seeing colors when listening to music, or feeling tactile shapes while tasting food. This cross-activation might develop, they theorize, by a failure of the "pruning" of neural connections between the areas in the developing brain.

The rare condition called synesthesia--in which people's sensory perceptual circuitry seems to be miswired--was long dismissed as an oddity not worthy of scientific study. Now, however, researchers such as Hubbard and his colleagues are using the condition to gain insights into the neural basis of perception.

In their experiments with synesthetes who report seeing colors when they view numbers or letters, the researchers first sought to determine whether synesthetes really see the colors.

In one such experiment, they presented six synesthetes with patterns of black letters or numbers--known as "graphemes"--on a white background. They chose those graphemes that the synesthetes reported elicited specific colors. They designed the experiment so that if the synesthetes really were seeing the colors, that color perception would help them distinguish shapes such as triangles or squares formed by the graphemes. In another experiment, the researchers found that synesthetic color helped the synesthetes pick out specific numbers or letters in a crowded display.

The researchers found that the synesthetic colors really did help the synesthetes distinguish the shapes or gra phemes, compared to normal control subjects who were tested on the same patterns. However, the experiments with both the synesthetes and the controls also revealed that the synesthetic colors were not as effective as real colors in such tasks.

In fMRI scans, the researchers found that the synesthetes showed greater activation in a color-perception region of the cortex when viewing graphemes, compared to normal control subjects. The researchers found that the strength of this activation influences the strength of the synesthetic colors. In fMRI, harmless radio waves and magnetic fields are used to map regions of higher blood flow in the brain, which reflects higher activity in those regions.

Importantly, the researchers found evidence suggesting that synesthetes may be quite different from one another, which the researchers said "has profound implications for the studies of synesthesia that group together data from multiple synesthetes and treat them as if they all come from a homogeneous population.

"The use of single case studies in synesthesia is also of concern because the results obtained with one synesthete may not generalize to other synesthetes.

The researchers concluded that "Our results suggest that synesthetic colors lead to improved behavioral performance in a manner similar to real colors. Because this study uses both psychophysical and neuroimaging measures in the same subjects in the study of synesthesia, we are able to examine specific aspects of the synesthetic experience that previous studies have not been able to address."

Edward M. Hubbard, A. Cyrus Arman, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, and Geoffrey M. Boynton: "Individual Differences among Grapheme-Color Synesthetes: Brain-Behavior Correlations"


'"/>

Source:Cell Press


Related biology news :

1. Alaskan puzzles, monitoring provide insight about North Pacific salmon runs
2. New insight into regulation of blood stem cells
3. New insight into autoimmune disease: Bacterial infections promote recognition of self-glycolipids
4. New insights into how Huntingtons disease attacks the brain
5. Gambling monkeys give insight into neural machinery of risk
6. Structures of marine toxins provide insight into their effectiveness as cancer drugs
7. Flies on speed offer insight into the roles of dopamine in sleep and arousal
8. Grasshopper love songs give insight into sensory tuning
9. Studies on human genome variation provide insight into disease
10. Study provides insight into cellular defenses against genetic mutation
11. New insights into the software of life
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/9/2016)... control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance control software, allowing ... are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of doors. ... ... ... Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377487 ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... 3, 2016 Das ... Nepal hat ein 44 ... geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung und IT-Infrastruktur, ... Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. Zahlreiche renommierte ... Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde als konformste ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems, Biometrics & ... & Other Service  The latest report from ... of the global Border Security market . Visiongain ... billion in 2016. Now: In November 2015 ... and hardware technologies for advanced video surveillance. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/5/2016)... CHICAGO , December 5, 2016 ... report, "Cell Expansion Market, by Products (Consumable, Instruments, ... Applications (Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, Cancer, ... Research Institutes, Cell Banks) - Global Revenue, Trends, ... by Scalar Market Research, the global cell expansion ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... , Dec. 5, 2016  Eisai Inc. ... open-label two-year study of rufinamide, which were presented ... Epilepsy Society (AES) held from December 2-6 in ... final two-year safety, tolerability and cognitive data showed ... experienced similar safety and tolerability profiles, cognitive development ...
(Date:12/4/2016)... ... December 03, 2016 , ... Microbial genomics leader ... grant award has been made to Dr. Renato Polimanti of Yale University School ... the oral microbiome. Grant proposals have been vetted by the company’s scientific review ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... 2016 More than $4.3 million was raised last ... DHMD ). The gala was held at the American Museum ... and honored Alan Alda and ... and medicine and the public understanding of science. Since the ... event has raised $40 million for the Laboratory,s research and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: