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Cogn Neuropsychol. 2005;22(8):1069-85. doi: 10.1080/02643290500200122.

Non-random associations of graphemes to colours in synaesthetic and non-synaesthetic populations.

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Psychology, PPLS, University of Edinburgh, UK.

Erratum in

  • Cogn Neuropsychol. 2014;31(7-8):623.


This study shows that biases exist in the associations of letters with colours across individuals both with and without grapheme-colour synaesthesia. A group of grapheme-colour synaesthetes were significantly more consistent over time in their choice of colours than a group of controls. Despite this difference, there were remarkable inter-subject agreements, both within and across participant groups (e.g., a tends to be red, b tends to be blue, c tends to be yellow). This suggests that grapheme-colour synaesthesia, whilst only exhibited by certain individuals, stems in part from mechanisms that are common to us all. In addition to shared processes, each population has its own distinct profile. Synaesthetes tend to associate higher frequency graphemes with higher frequency colour terms. For control participants, choices are influenced by order of elicitation, and by exemplar typicality from the semantic class of colours.


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