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Conscious Cogn. 2012 Jun;21(2):889-99. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2012.03.010. Epub 2012 Apr 14.

Synaesthetic perception of colour and visual space in a blind subject: an fMRI case study.

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Institute of Experimental Psychology II, Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf, Germany.


In spatial sequence synaesthesia (SSS) ordinal stimuli are perceived as arranged in peripersonal space. Using fMRI, we examined the neural bases of SSS and colour synaesthesia for spoken words in a late-blind synaesthete, JF. He reported days of the week and months of the year as both coloured and spatially ordered in peripersonal space; parts of the days and festivities of the year were spatially ordered but uncoloured. Words that denote time-units and triggered no concurrents were used in a control condition. Both conditions inducing SSS activated the occipito-parietal, infero-frontal and insular cortex. The colour area hOC4v was engaged when the synaesthetic experience included colour. These results confirm the continued recruitment of visual colour cortex in this late-blind synaesthetes. Synaesthesia also involved activation in inferior frontal cortex, which may be related to spatial memory and detection, and in the insula, which might contribute to audiovisual integration related to the processing of inducers and concurrents.

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