Multisensory Consciousness and Synesthesia

In Rocco Gennaro (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Consciousness. Oxford: Routledge. pp. 322-336 (2020)
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This chapter distinguishes between two kinds of ordinary multisensory experience that go beyond mere co-consciousness of features (e.g., the experience that results from concurrently hearing a sound in the hallway and seeing the cup on the table). In one case, a sensory experience in one modality creates a perceptual demonstrative to whose referent qualities are attributed in another sensory modality. For example, when you hear someone speak, auditory experience attributes audible qualities to a seen event, a person’s speaking motions. The second kind of multisensory experience attributes features experienced in several sensory modalities to one and the same object via a process of amodal perceptual integration, i.e., integration that occurs separately from processing within the individual sensory modalities. Multisensory experiences arising from holding and seeing a tomato or from seeing the Indian curry boil and smelling it are examples of the second kind of multisensory experience. At the end of the chapter we look at synesthesia, a kind of atypical multisensory experience, and argue that one version of this phenomenon may be able to shed light on the neural mechanism underlying amodally integrated multisensory experience.



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Berit Brogaard
University of Miami
Elijah Chudnoff
University of Miami

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References found in this work

The representational character of experience.David J. Chalmers - 2004 - In Brian Leiter (ed.), The Future for Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 153--181.
Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions.J. R. Stroop - 1935 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 18 (6):643.
What is the unity of consciousness?Timothy J. Bayne & David J. Chalmers - 2003 - In Axel Cleeremans (ed.), The Unity of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.

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