The Long-Term Potentiation Model for Grapheme-Color Binding in Synesthesia

In David Bennett & Chris Hill (eds.), Sensory Integration and the Unity of Consciousness. MIT Press (2015)

Abstract

The phenomenon of synesthesia has undergone an invigoration of research interest and empirical progress over the past decade. Studies investigating the cognitive mechanisms underlying synesthesia have yielded insight into neural processes behind such cognitive operations as attention, memory, spatial phenomenology and inter-modal processes. However, the structural and functional mechanisms underlying synesthesia still remain contentious and hypothetical. The first section of the present paper reviews recent research on grapheme-color synesthesia, one of the most common forms of synesthesia, and addresses the ongoing debate concerning the role of selective attention in eliciting synesthetic experience. Drawing on conclusions of the first half, the paper’s second half examines the various models proposed to explain the cognitive mechanisms behind grapheme-color synesthesia, and discusses the explanatory virtues of a new model suggesting that grapheme-color synesthesia is grounded in memory. The last section offers an examination of some of the broader philosophical implications of synesthesia.

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Berit Brogaard
University of Miami

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