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Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Jul;13(7):288-92. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.03.009. Epub 2009 Jun 12.

Why color synesthesia involves more than color.

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  • 1Departments of Neuroscience and Department of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimuli can trigger experiences in non-stimulated sensory dimensions. The literature has focused on forms of synesthesia in which stimuli (e.g. music, touch or numbers) trigger experiences of color. Generally missing, however, is the observation that synesthetic colors are often accompanied by the experience of other surface properties such as texture (e.g. a visual experience of linen, metal, marble, velvet, etc). Current frameworks for synesthesia focus only upon the involvement of brain regions such as the V4 color complex. Here, we propose an expanded framework that includes brain regions involved in the encoding of material properties - specifically, larger regions of the medial ventral stream. The overlap of visual texture and color processing within ventral regions might explain why many experiences of synesthesia extend beyond color to other material properties.

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