People living with synaesthesia (known as synaesthetes) experience abnormal interactions between the senses. Digit-color synaesthetes, for instance, will experience certain numbers in specific colors (for example, they might experience the number seven as red). A possible reason put forward for this phenomenon is the existence of extra connections between brain areas in synaesthetes, but the new study, published in the journal Psychological Science, suggests otherwise.
Hypnosis can induce synaesthetic experiences – where one sense triggers the involuntary use of another – according to a new study by UCL (University College London) researchers. The findings suggests that people with synaesthesia, contrary to popular belief, do not necessarily have extra connections in their brain; rather, their brains may simply do more 'cross talking' and this can be induced by changing inhibitory processes in the average brain.
To explore the alternative theory of more cross talk (disinhibition) between brain areas in synaesthetes, Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh and colleagues used posthypnotic suggestion to show that people who are not synaesthetes can be induced to have synaesthetic experiences.
After inducing digit-color synaesthesia, the volunteers reported similar experiences to those undergone by real synaesthetes in their everyday life. For example, one participant described seeing the numbers on car number plates in specific colors, while walking around under posthypnotic suggestion. Moreover, hypnotized participants failed trick tests which were also failed by real synaesthetes: in one test, when subjects were hypnotized to experience seven as red, they could not detect the number when a black seven was presented on a red background.
Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, says: "Our study shows that posthypnotic suggestion can induce synaesthetic experiences in people, suggesting that extra brain connections are not needed to experience cross-sensory interactions and that it is more cross talk within the brain that causes these experiences. This takes us one step closer to understanding the causes of synaesthesia and abnormal cross-brain interactions."
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Global 'Roadmap' Shows Where To Put Roads Without Costing The Earth
- Schrödinger's Picture: Researchers Take An Image Without Ever Detecting Light
- Old Dope, New Tricks: The New Science Of Medical Cannabis
- E-Cigarettes Versus Cigarettes: 10X Decrease In Second-Hand Smoke
- The Saddam Tapes: Hussein Was A Mass-Murdering Despot, But A Sincere One
- Anger Face Is Universal, And It Evolved Because Of Psychology
- Aconite: Chinese Herbal Medicine Turns Deadly
- "My article CMB B-modes, spinorial space-time and Pre-Big Bang (II) can be found in this note :http..."
- "Hi chorasimilarity,I don't consider it much of a conflict of interests, at least in experimental..."
- "ED, let me just say this about the math issues. Since the Winnower Paper I've been submitted..."
- "Well, now we just have to solve the prescription drug deaths issue...."
- "I got your email. I'm not entirely sure why you told me all that. As I said before to LFB, titles..."