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PLoS One. 2015 Mar 4;10(3):e0118996. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118996. eCollection 2015.

Prevalence of learned grapheme-color pairings in a large online sample of synesthetes.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.
2
Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York, United States of America.
3
Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America.

Abstract

In this paper we estimate the minimum prevalence of grapheme-color synesthetes with letter-color matches learned from an external stimulus, by analyzing a large sample of English-speaking grapheme-color synesthetes. We find that at least 6% (400/6588 participants) of the total sample learned many of their matches from a widely available colored letter toy. Among those born in the decade after the toy began to be manufactured, the proportion of synesthetes with learned letter-color pairings approaches 15% for some 5-year periods. Among those born 5 years or more before it was manufactured, none have colors learned from the toy. Analysis of the letter-color matching data suggests the only difference between synesthetes with matches to the toy and those without is exposure to the stimulus. These data indicate learning of letter-color pairings from external contingencies can occur in a substantial fraction of synesthetes, and are consistent with the hypothesis that grapheme-color synesthesia is a kind of conditioned mental imagery.

PMID:
25739095
PMCID:
PMC4349591
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0118996
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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