Date Thesis Awarded

5-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Peter Vishton

Committee Members

Joshua Burk

Jackson Sasser

Abstract

Synesthesia is a neurological condition involving the pairing of senses. For synesthetes, a stimulus invokes a sensory perception; for instance, the letter “B” may be pink or the name “Susan” may taste like apples. Scientists hypothesize that this condition is caused by neurological differences; synesthetes may have more cross-activation between brain areas, either neuroanatomically, through cross-wiring, or perceptually, through disinhibited feedback from higher to lower multimodal areas, or vice versa. These differences have implications for synesthetic learning, memory, attention and inhibition. In the present experiment Multimodal Perception, participants completed a survey investigating their synesthetic experiences, in addition to five tasks used to measure learning, memory, attention and inhibition. Results showed that synesthetes performed significantly worse than controls on the Wisconsin Card Sorting task, a measure of psychological flexibility and perseveration, but not on the Stroop, Simon or Flanker tasks (measures of attention and inhibition) or the digit span task (a measure of memory). These data have interesting implications for how synesthetes process information and learn, and may be used in conjunction with data related to synesthetic prevalence and demographics to further study this neurological condition and what cognitive advantages and deficits are seen in those with synesthesia.

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