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J Cogn Neurosci. 2006 Sep;18(9):1570-6.

Coming unbound: disrupting automatic integration of synesthetic color and graphemes by transcranial magnetic stimulation of the right parietal lobe.

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Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.


In some individuals, a visually presented letter or number automatically evokes the perception of a specific color, an experience known as color-grapheme synesthesia. It has been suggested that parietal binding mechanisms play a role in the phenomenon. We used a noninvasive stimulation technique, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), to determine whether the posterior parietal lobe is critical for the integration of color and shape in color-grapheme synesthesia, as it appears to be for normal color-shape binding. Using a color-naming task with colored letters that were either congruent or incongruent with the synesthetic photism, we demonstrate that inhibition of the right posterior parietal lobe with repetitive TMS transiently attenuates synesthetic binding. These findings suggest that synesthesia (the induction of color from shape) relies on similar mechanisms as found in normal perception (where the perception of color is induced by wavelength).

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