Ovals of time: Time-space associations in synaesthesia

Consciousness and Cognition 16 (2):507-519 (2007)

Abstract

We examine a condition in which units of time, such as months of the year, are associated with specific locations in space. For individuals with this time-space synaesthesia, contiguous time units such as months are spatially linked forming idiosyncratically shaped patterns such as ovals, oblongs or circles. For some individuals, each time unit appears in a highly specific colour. For instance, one of the synaesthetes we studied experienced December as a red area located at arms length to the left of their body. For the same individual May was a blue area located roughly at arms length to the right of their body. We studied four synaesthetes who report spatial associations for the months of the year. We found that the time-space associations experienced by these individuals were consistent across test–retest. In addition, month names directed visual attention to particular locations in space. For some synaesthetes, this directing of spatial attention was quite rapid-in accord with their reports that month names involuntarily bring to mind spatial locations

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