Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Psychol Sci. 2013 Mar 1;24(3):258-65. doi: 10.1177/0956797612452573. Epub 2013 Jan 10.

Learning, memory, and synesthesia.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Stanford University, 416 Jordan Hall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


People with color-grapheme synesthesia experience color when viewing written letters or numerals, usually with a particular color evoked by each grapheme. Here, we report on data from 11 color-grapheme synesthetes who had startlingly similar color-grapheme pairings traceable to childhood toys containing colored letters. These are the first and only data to show learned synesthesia of this kind in more than a single individual. Whereas some researchers have focused on genetic and perceptual aspects of synesthesia, our results indicate that a complete explanation of synesthesia must also incorporate a central role for learning and memory. We argue that these two positions can be reconciled by thinking of synesthesia as the automatic retrieval of highly specific mnemonic associations, in which perceptual contents are brought to mind in a manner akin to mental imagery or the perceptual-reinstatement effects found in memory studies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center