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SYNAESTHESIA: "coping with the demands of learning”

by Patrick di Santo 4 months ago in science


9. (2020) all rights reserved IDP BMI

Not an illness or mental disorder. But an alternate way to navigate reality combining senses in a novel manner to interpret the environment existed within. Synesthesia is thought to have evolved from framing and priming by societal norms, not present in these individuals leaving them to explore the senses uniquely, originally without the confines of judgement. Dr. Montessori began studies to nurture this observation made as synesthetes as they are called are primarily problem solvers. There is a genetic component to synesthesia, which travels from parent to child.

Thought to develop in part as a coping strategy for learning demands of childhood, a successful strategy association uniquely looking at what has been learned. Synesthetic in appearance, this ability outset, may not be in conflict with genetic or nativist accounts. Synesthesia may likely be a genetic inheritance and a neurological profile that is required for the development of ability. Scientists believe a component development, acknowledged by research (e.g., Spector and Maurer, 2009).

Those who report a lifelong history of such experiences are known as synesthetes. Who hears a specific frequency, experiences it as having a certain color. Some have strong color experiences when engaging the sense of touch. This Synesthesia is the perceptual phenomenon in which multiple sensory and cognitive pathways lead to involuntary experiences in a second sensory and cognitive pathways.


The phenomenon of Synesthesia, the addition of the perceptual experience by unusual sensory stimuli and concepts in cognition. Phenomenal experiences uncover the Synesthetes interpretation triggered by this stimulation. Consciousness is relevant when identifying mental and physiological processes that subserve the experience. Present research suggests several reasons why synesthesia interprets consciousness more fully. The role of semantics in with synesthetes, establishes synesthetic associations in the brain and interplay between semantics and sensory in novel solutions via neural correlates of consciousness, particularly when understanding ambiguous stimuli for induction of this novel pathway. Alternate brain networks function and connections in consciousness make up the existence and daily understanding of the world original to these individuals.


Synesthesia as a phenomenon presents itself as a stimulus inducer that produces additional phenomenal experiences, where no physical sensory inputs exist. When the letter “A” may trigger an experience of red color (Hochel and Milán, 2008) even though there is nothing that can be established as objectively red in the stimulus. Rather, the experience of color red is created exclusively internally. Mappings of Synesthetes inducing stimulus and the concurrent experience are involuntary and automatic while unique for each individual, stabilizing over time (Wollen and Ruggiero, 1983; Baron-Cohen et al., 1987). Synesthesia is thought to be around 1–2% of the population (Simner et al., 2006).

A neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary novel interpretation in a second sensory and cognitive pathway. Simply put, when one sense is activated, another sense unrelated is also activated simultaneously.

Synesthetes see sounds, taste words, feel a sensation when smelling scents combinations of the sensorial experience. See and understand in abstract concepts time projected in the space around them, Experiencing more than one sense intensely.

Increased communication between sensory regions and is involuntary, automatic, and stable over time is responsible for the condition. Has also been recorded as a response to chemistry, sensory deprivation, or brain damage, and heritable variants comprising roughly 4% of the population. Often appearing in childhood. Research of a genetic component; there is some debate over whether everyone is born with some degree of synesthesia, or if it's a special perception of the world that could be part of our adaptive processes. Hallucinations share a similar component to the perception of the environment that is not physically present. The main difference is experiences is the trigger.

Substances can cause one to experience synesthesia or like temporarily. Psychedelic chemicals can heighten and connect this experience. Mescaline, psilocybin, cannabis, alcohol, caffeine, cane sugar, and LSD have been observed for their ability to induce this temporary version of this phenomenon.

Research has found this topic frustrating as well as fascinating, particularly because of the additional phenomenal experiences, i.e., the concurrent qualia. How and why phenomenal experience arises is part of the “hard” problem in consciousness research (e.g., Chalmers, 1995). Many requirements that are necessary for us to be conscious of the world around us can be explained in terms of function, process, circuit, and system. The integration of information by a cognitive neuro communication that dictates deliberate control of behavior. Reportable mental processes are among the “easy” problems of consciousness; Chalmers, 1995). This is a relatively easy problem. However, it has turned out much more difficult to explain the mechanisms of the experience.

Subjective experience of seeing the color red, feeling the wind or a sunny day. Consciousness is hard to account for. The question is synaesthesia more prevalent in autism spectrum persons? According to Abstract Savant syndrome, a condition where prodigious talent co-occurs with developmental difficulties such as autism spectrum conditions (ASC).

Savant skills are better understood by a possible link with synaesthesia: savant syndrome may arise in ASC individuals who also are synthetes. Autism appears to have higher rates of synaesthesia. Is autism per se a threshold for synesthesia, or only in cases where autism co-occurs with savant skills. Those with autism in previous studies when tested for synaesthesia were not differentiated into with and without savant attributes. This study tests three groups: those with autism as well as savant skills (n = 40), those with autism and no savant skills (n = 34), and savant with no autism (n = 29).

Using a validated test to diagnose grapheme–colour synaesthesia. A significantly higher prevalence of synaesthesia in people with ASC has been observed,when savant skills were presented. It seems autism associated with synesthesia is linked to those with savant abilities rather than autism et al. Prodigious talent and synaesthesia surface during development of motor and cognizant skills. Neural correlates of the conscious experience (Dehaene and Naccache, 2001; Singer, 2001; Melloni et al., 2007; Aru et al., 2012) according to Crick in 1994 the consciousness may or may not be utilizing minimal neuronal events and subjective awareness (Cohen and Dennett, 2011); There are many varying opinions on the conscious experience accounted for by the physiological processes in the brain (Chalmers, 1995; Metzinger, 2000; Gray, 2005; Cohen and Dennett, 2011).

Research is still needed as to whether conscious experience and cognitive processing are integrated (Cohen and Dennett, 2011); whether the experience of conscious is a global integration of information (e.g., Lamme, 2006) or active in localizing brain areas (Zeki, 2001). Synesthesia is unusual stimuli that triggers automatic and involuntary associations. Synaesthetes see colours when they hear particular frequencies of sound (Ward et al., 2006). The conventional term inducer refers to the stimulus that triggers the effect (e.g., music) concurrent to the synaesthetic experience of colour (Grossenbacher and Lovelace, 2001).

Grapheme–colour synaesthesia is one of the most widely studied examples, where concurrent colour results from reading, hearing, thinking, or seeing letters or numbers (Simner et al., 2006a, b). In this study the relationship goal between grapheme– colour synaesthesia and autism spectrum conditions (ASC). Investigating whether the two conditions co-occur, whether via the emergence of prodigious talent or not. ASC have societal difficulties in social communication, unusually narrow interests, repetitive behaviour, and a strong need for routines, sensory hyper-sensitivity (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Research suggests that people with ASC seem to have elevated rates of synaesthesia, expressing a link between these two conditions.

Genetic and phenotypic overlap between the conditions (Asher et al., 2009; Cytowic, 1995) with genetic region of chromosome 2 implicated in synaesthesia (2q24.1; Asher et al., 2009) found in genome-wide studies of ASC (IMGSAC, 2001). Several hundred genes are present in this region with potential overlap of architecture. Gregerson et al. (2013) Close genetic relationship exists between synaesthesia, frequency and absolute pitch (AP), Occurring more often in those with ASC (DePape et al., 2012; Dohn et al., 2012). Genetic heterogeneity in the development of synaesthesia, has links to other conditions. Genetic markers of synaesthesia and ASC are still not fully understood. Both conditions are characterised by presentation of unusual sensory experiences and behavioural authenticity unaffected by corporate filters, highly sensitized to one's own needs often expressed through their survival flight or fight response. (Baron-Cohen et al., 2009; Marco et al., 2011; Neufeld et al., 2013; Rogers and Ozonoff, 2005; Tavassoli et al., 2014a, b).

Hypersensitivities and hyper-sensitivities to sensory perception are frequently found in ASC, subjects report difficulties adjusting to light, frequency, smell, tactile, and stimulation. (Leekam et al., 2007; Tomcheck and Dunn, 2007). Synaesthesia also, Banissy et al. (2009) is found the hyper sensitivity to these including modality of sensations, across several sensory domains (Ward et al., 2017). Atypical sensory experiences occur in both synaesthesia and autism, direct causal explanation for any co-occurrence is presently in research.Neural base similarity exists across both conditions. (Kemner et al., 1995). Autism showed what was described as synaesthetic brain activity, with occipital activation (usually associated with visual processing) in response to auditory stimuli in an ERP study by Kemner et al. Subjects identified a task unique to subjects with ASC (and not controls) significantly occipital activation was increased across primary and secondary auditory tasks. Jao Keehn et al. (2016) replicated this finding via MRI, demonstrating increased activity of those with ASC, visual cortex during the auditory task compared to reduced activity in a control group.

Neuroimaging similarities in the function of the brains of synaesthetes and subjects with ASC. Both synaesthesia and ASC, emphasising structurally altered neural connectivity. This is also found in other conditions, such as schizophrenia (McIntosh et al., 2008). Synesthetes brains are consistent across the globe (Zamm et al., 2013) between adjacent brain regions and connectivity (Bargary and Mitchell, 2008).

Rouw and Scholte (2007) discovered synaesthetes who exhibited the grapheme–colour condition, had anisotropic diffusion of local clusters associated with more coherent white matter colour-selectivity compared with matched controls. Casanova and Trippe (2009) suggest that In ASC also, expresses a degree of hyper-connectivity of those with autism with the short-range local connections similar to the local cross-activation adjacent cortical areas that underlie synaesthetic experiences (Hubbard and Ramachandran, 2005).

Associations between synaesthesia and ASC suggest via quasi-epidemiological studies, in both conditions directly. 164 individuals with ASC along with 97 typical controls were tested by BaronCohen et al. 2013, subjects having self-reported synaesthesia experience. Grapheme–colour synaesthesia, the subject of this observation with a range of other variants of frequency, colour, taste, colour, touch colour, taste, shape, frequency, taste. Variants, synaesthesia reported 18.9% of individuals with ASC, significantly higher than the 7.2% observed by Brill.com 2020 under the research of J. E. A. Hughes et al. / Multisensory Research 2017 3 in the control sample.

Grapheme–colour synaesthesia reported 11.0% or 18 out of 164 of individuals with ASC, compared to 3.1% or 3 out of 97 of controls. No statistical comparison was made but calculations are significant in differences across groups of self-reported grapheme–colour synaesthetes [χ2(1, 1) = 4.109 with Yates’ correction; p 0.05). No validation test, independently verified self-reports of synaesthesia, low participant uptake subsequent test of genuine reporting reliability. Self-report alone can be unreliable in synaesthesia diagnosis (Simner et al., 2006b). The replicated second study (Neufeld et al., 2013) showed elevated rates of synaesthesia in people with ASC using self-reporting and objective test for synaesthesia. 29 individuals were screened by Neufeld et al. with Asperger Syndrome for grapheme–colour synaesthesia using a validated test of genuine reporting, finding a rate of synaesthesia was almost nine times higher in people with ASC (17.2%) than the general population for which they used a baseline of 2.0%.

Prevalence of grapheme–colour synaesthesia in the general population (Simner et al., 2006) from studies conclude that grapheme–colour synaesthesia occurs significantly more often in ASC compared to the general population. Grapheme–colour synaesthesia occurs more often in ASC the hypothesis of this study or whether it occurs particularly in the subjects with ASC, namely, those who also have savant syndrome. The presence of Savant syndrome, specific talents in individuals with developmental autism (Howlin et al., 2009; Treffert, 2009), where talent exceeds the subject's level of intellectual functioning.

Individuals with autism often have extraordinary talent, while having social communication and learning deficits. Savant skills related to memory, mathematics, art, frequency, and space. The islands of genius exist in individuals with deficits in other domains (Treffert, 2009) all prodigious savant abilities come to be characterized by what is expressed in individuals who possess unconventional skills that are sharp, howned, strikingly otherworldly, compared to the overall functioning of the subject in comparison to the general population. Over 35% of individuals with ASC express savant syndrome (Howlin et al., 2009) over 45% of individuals with a savant skill are diagnosed with ASC (Chia, 2012). ASC being related to neurodevelopmental expression is hypothesised to link savant syndrome to synaesthesia (Baron-Cohen et al., 2007; Simner et al., 2009). This research suggests that the Multisensory Research in 2017 by J. E. A. Hughes et al. combining ASC and synaesthesia as co-occurring within a single individual, provides the circumstances to give rise to savant syndrome.

Two studies agree, BaronCohen et al. in 2007 uncovered a case study of a person with synaesthesia, asperger syndrome, and savant syndrome. Subject could speak many languages, has calculation abilities, and prodigious mathematics abilities of constant π to 22. Subject also experienced multiple forms of synaesthesia numbers, textures, shape. Baron-Cohen et al. (2007) A highly probable argument for synaesthesia and ASC comparison. Co-occurrence of synaesthesia and ASC seems to increase the likelihood of developing savant syndrome in that synaesthesia is known to coordinate cognitive advantages including memory (Simner et al., 2009; Rothen et al., 2012). Underpinning extraordinary memory, as in this savant case study.

Dimensional synaesthesia; colour, shape, texture, frequency may enhance memory through dual coding of the memory cue (Terhune et al., 2013) enabling a superior mnemonic strategy to use. In addition, ASC is associated with hyper-systemizing (Baron-Cohen et al., 2003), that is, a strong interest in patterns and rule-baseing. This is thought to underlie the unusually narrow interests, sometimes called obsessions. Simner et al. (2009) suggested that savant skills in autism may arise through the joint mechanisms of synaesthesia, leading to enhanced memory, and ASC leading to obsessive traits, resulting in over-rehearsal of talent.

To test this one type of savant syndrome showing that both synaesthesia and obsessive rehearsal (Simner et al., 2009). Savant AJ (Parker et al., 2006) has prodigious recall, as well as sequence-space synaesthesia, in which time is seen projected into convoluted spatial arrays according to our prima facie interpretation of history observed and recorded by Simner et al., 2009. Obsessive traits as seen in ASC repetitive thoughts and rehearsal of events in memory. Recorded was this form of synaesthesia facilitates autobiographical memory recall to above average levels. Savant-level of recall may arise from an obsessive over-rehearsal of this a priori synaesthetic advantage.

Supported by LePort et al. in 2012 this hypothesis observed that savants fit the profile predicted by this theory: in they have significantly high levels of obsessive-compulsive traits with the Leyton Obsessional Inventory Score-Short Form; Mathews et al., (J. E. A. Hughes, 2017) expressing extraordinary memory in domains that mirror those synaesthetes accessed for autobiographical memory recall. Exactly as hypothesized by Baron-Cohen et al., 2007; Simner et al., 2009. The current study focuses on the association between synaesthesia, ASC, and savant syndrome. Asking: does synaesthesia hold a relationship to ASC, as suggested by Baron-Cohen et al. in 2013 and Neufeld et al. in 2013. Can this observation expose a specific link to savant skills. Three groups were recruited to explore this question with individuals diagnosed with ASC who also have prodigious savant skill (ASC-savants); individuals diagnosed with ASC but with no accompanying savant skill (ASC-non-savants); and ‘controls’ who have neither a diagnosis of ASC or reported savant skill. Prodigious savant is any individual who is diagnosed with ASC that co-occurs with a skill/ability/talent that exceeds the level found in the general population.

Participants are screened for synaesthesia: self-report and objective diagnostic test. Testing for grapheme–colour synaesthesia in particular to follow the methods of Neufeld et al. in 2013,. A well-understood variant of synaesthesia with a well-accepted diagnostic test. Baron-Cohen et al. in 2013 and Neufeld et al. in 2013 suggest grapheme–colour synaesthesia appears more prevalent in ASC, this hypothesis is different. Savant skills can arise from the combination of synaesthesia and, it is believed that synaesthesia should be present in ASC, but only in those ASC individuals who also report savant syndrome. Equivalent rates of synaesthesia in controls and ASC non-savants, with elevated rates in ASC individuals who are also savants.


103 subject participants 67 female; mean age 36.4, range 18–51, S.D. 9.7 participated. Comprising 40 ASC individuals with savant skills ‘ASC-savants’: 22 female; mean age 35.45 years, range 20–49, S.D. 9.1, 34 ASC individuals without a savant skill ASC-non-savants: 21 female; mean age 37.0 years, range 18–51, S.D. 9.1, and 29 controls with neither ASC nor a savant skill 24 female; mean age 36.9, range 18–50, S.D. 11.4.

Subjects were matched group-wise on age. A one-way ANOVA showed no significant difference in age across the three groups: F(2, 100) = 0.284, p = 0.8. Downloaded from Brill.com11/20/2020 07:20:19PM via free access J. E. A. Hughes et al. / Multisensory Research in 2017, 397 individuals participated in two sources. Two of the 40 ASC-savants were recruited from a group of individuals with savant skills who have expressed an interest in taking part in research studies at the University of Sussex. The remaining ASC-savants were recruited from the Cambridge Autism Research Database, determining savant status by administering a savant questionnaire. The 34 ASC-non-savant individuals and 29 controls also came from the Cambridge Autism Research Database.

No mention of synaesthesia to volunteers, 4172 subjects: 553 ASC-savants, 930 ASC-non-savants, and 2689 typical adults without a diagnosis of ASC. Classified as ASC versus control, and savant versus non-savant, approved by the local University Ethics Committee.

Materials and Procedure

URL link via email was sent to subjects, on the website where they reviewed an information page and consent form. Subjects were asked to complete tasks, in this order, whether ASC was present, savant skill was present, and synaesthesia was present. To determine ASC status, all subjects were asked about formal diagnosis of: Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Pervasive developmental disorder and Other. Using responses to classify participants according to their ASC status. Subjects with ASC from the Cambridge Autism Research Database record their ASC psychiatrist diagnosis, clinical psychologist, neurologist, or pediatrician, recognised clinic

Subjects then completed a questionnaire about skills, were provided a definition of savant syndrome and asked whether any talents presented themselves beyond those seen in the general population. A yes response opened a list of nine categories of savant skills, with definitions, with check boxes. Standardized assessment for savant syndrome is under development, our questionnaire was novel for this study. Subjects then were assessed for grapheme–colour synaesthesia (Asher et al., 2006; Baron-Cohen et al., 1987; Rich et al., 2005). This is an assessment based on consistency: inducer-concurrent pairings with colours, letters (Simner and Logie, 2008). Consistency was assessed by participants' choice of colour-choices for graphemes, using the same Neufeld et al. (2013; following Eagleman et al., 2007).

Subjects are asked whether they experience grapheme–colour synaesthesia, with the question “Do numbers or letters cause you to have a colour experience?” Subjects check boxes for characters. Categorised as non-synaesthetes if one checks neither box, then guided to an exit from the screen. Characters are assessed and those who have selected proceed to grapheme colour synaesthesia test, which evaluates consistency. Subjects are presented grapheme three times. Each subject selects a preferred colour association such as A = red; B = purple and so on, Reduction of spatial memory a trial-by-trial randomisation of hue. Mean distance in colour space between the three colours for each grapheme is then converted into a standardised consistency bias, small standardised scores reflect consistent colour selections for the grapheme close in colour-space as per Eagleman et al., 2007. Consistency reflects genuine synaesthesia as indicated by scores less than 1 again from Eagleman et al., 2007 and Neufeld et al., 2013. Subjects receive feedback on their performance in these tasks. Also tested subjects for a range of other synaesthesia, such as weekday-colour, sound-colour, individual differences or mental imagery.

Assessment takes 40 min to complete if subjects report synaesthesia. All 103 participants completed ASC and savant questionnaires, and a total of 73 out of our 103 participants took the synaesthesia task as described above. Twenty-two of these 103 participants took the synaesthesia test following a reminder by answering “Do numbers or letters cause you to have a colour experience?” before entering the main grouping, upon completing the synaesthesia task as other subjects.


Subject Status: Control, Versus ASC-Savant, Versus ASC-Non-Savant, tests for ASC and savant syndrome confirmed that subjects fell into three groups: ASC-savants, ASC-non-savants, and controls.

Reported multiple savant skills: Math, Calendar calculation, Musical instrument playing, Music reproduction, Absolute pitch, Art, Memory, Mechanical, Fluency in language, and Other.

Grapheme–colour synaesthesia were compared against a 1.4% baseline from the general population (Simner and Carmichael, 2015).Finding no elevated rates in controls, nor people with ASC who do not report savant skills, but a significantly higher rate in ASC individuals who do report savant skills.

Findings therefore suggest that synaesthesia is not linked to autism per se, but specifically to individuals with autism who report having savant skills.

This study found a higher rate of synaesthesia in ASC but not controlled for the inclusion of savants in their ASC samples. When the savants are removed no longer are high rates of synaesthesia identified.

2.9% synaesthetes found in our ASC-non-savant group falls far below Neufeld et al.’s finding of 17.2%, outside their 95% confidence interval of 3.5%–31%. Conclude that the higher rate from Brill.com 2020, J. E. A. Hughes et al. Multisensory Research of synaesthesia in ASC arose from the savants inclusion. T

Recombining Neufeld et al.’s results of savant and non-savant ASC groups together. By merging samples ASC-savants + ASC-non-savant grapheme–colour synaesthesia 5 out of 74, or 6.8% identifies the confidence range of Neufeld et al. Combined data also mirrors that of Baron-Cohen et al. 2013: when we calculate 8 out of 74, or 10.81% similar to the 18 out of 164, or 10.98%.

All three studies converge on the conclusion that synaesthesia is found at elevated rates in ASC populations in Baron-Cohen et al., 2013 studies; Neufeld et al 2013 studies most likely driven by the savants.


Replication on 95 subjects: four out of 37 participants with grapheme–colour synaesthesia in the ASC-savant group 10.8% more significant than the general population baseline [χ2(1) = 16.373, p < 0.001]. With no significant baseline for synaesthete out of 31 ASC-non-savants [3.2%; χ2(1) = 0.01, p = 0.920] or for synaesthete out of 27 controls [3.9%; χ2(1) = 0.065, p = 0.799].

Pattern results seen baseline of Neufeld et al. 2013, 2%, Simner et al., 2006. Pattern repeats [40 ASC-savants, χ2(1) = 6.69, p = 0.01; 34 ASC-non-savants, χ2(1) = 0.00, p = 1.00; 29 controls, χ2(1) = 0.00, p = 1.00] or just those who completed all aspects of our tests [37 ASCsavants, χ2(1) = 6.43, p = 0.015; 31 ASC-non-savants, χ2(1) = 0.00, p = 1.00; 29 controls, χ2(1) = 0.00, p = 1.00].

An additional inclusion would be to do a longitudinal cross sectional study of synesthesia as an adaptation to electronic digital media EDM from mid 20c statistics. This would allow one to develop the hypotheses that synesthesia is on the incline as is autism and savant due to an adaptation, possibly genetic.

The main study review and replication from A. Hughes et al. / Multisensory Research (2017)

Hughes, James E. A., Julia Simner, Simon Baron-Cohen, Darold A. Treffert, and Jamie Ward, (2017) School of Psychology, Pevensey Building, University of Sussex, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Agnesian HealthCare.

Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Douglas House, 18B Trumpington Road, Cambridge CB2 8AH, UK 4 Agnesian HealthCare, 430 East Division Street, Fond du Lac, WI 54935, USA Received 6 September 2016; accepted 19 February 2017 Nanay, Bence Ph.D. (2019) We Are All Synesthetes Given the right circumstances. University of California, Berkeley


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Patrick di Santo
Patrick di Santo
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