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Time course of neural activity correlated with colored-hearing synesthesia


Beeli, G; Esslen, M; Jäncke, Lutz (2008). Time course of neural activity correlated with colored-hearing synesthesia. Cerebral Cortex, 18(2):379-385.

Abstract

Synesthesia is defined as the involuntary and automatic perception of a stimulus in 2 or more sensory modalities (i.e., cross-modal linkage). Colored-hearing synesthetes experience colors when hearing tones or spoken utterances. Based on event-related potentials we employed electric brain tomography with high temporal resolution in colored-hearing synesthetes and nonsynesthetic controls during auditory verbal stimulation. The auditory-evoked potentials to words and letters were different between synesthetes and controls at the N1 and P2 components, showing longer latencies and lower amplitudes in synesthetes. The intracerebral sources of these components were estimated with low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography and revealed stronger activation in synesthetes in left posterior inferior temporal regions, within the color area in the fusiform gyrus (V4), and in orbitofrontal brain regions (ventromedial and lateral). The differences occurred as early as 122 ms after stimulus onset. Our findings replicate and extend earlier reports with functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography in colored-hearing synesthesia and contribute new information on the time course in synesthesia demonstrating the fast and possibly automatic processing of this unusual and remarkable phenomenon.

Abstract

Synesthesia is defined as the involuntary and automatic perception of a stimulus in 2 or more sensory modalities (i.e., cross-modal linkage). Colored-hearing synesthetes experience colors when hearing tones or spoken utterances. Based on event-related potentials we employed electric brain tomography with high temporal resolution in colored-hearing synesthetes and nonsynesthetic controls during auditory verbal stimulation. The auditory-evoked potentials to words and letters were different between synesthetes and controls at the N1 and P2 components, showing longer latencies and lower amplitudes in synesthetes. The intracerebral sources of these components were estimated with low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography and revealed stronger activation in synesthetes in left posterior inferior temporal regions, within the color area in the fusiform gyrus (V4), and in orbitofrontal brain regions (ventromedial and lateral). The differences occurred as early as 122 ms after stimulus onset. Our findings replicate and extend earlier reports with functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography in colored-hearing synesthesia and contribute new information on the time course in synesthesia demonstrating the fast and possibly automatic processing of this unusual and remarkable phenomenon.

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41 citations in Web of Science®
45 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:31 Oct 2008 15:21
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:32
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1047-3211
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhm072
PubMed ID:17573375

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