Social perception in synaesthesia for colour

Janik McErlean, Agnieszka B; Susilo, Tirta; Rezlescu, Constantin; Bray, A and Banissy, Michael J.. 2016. Social perception in synaesthesia for colour. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 33(7-8), pp. 1-10. ISSN 0264-3294 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Synaesthesia is a rare phenomenon in which stimulation in one modality (e.g. audition) evokes a secondary percept not associated with the first (e.g. colour). Although there is a significant body of research investigating the mechanisms underlying synaesthetic experiences, it is only recently that studies have begun to investigate broader traits associated with the condition. Prior work has suggested links between synaesthesia and other neurodevelopmental conditions that are linked to altered social perception abilities. With this in mind, here we sought to examine social perception abilities in grapheme-colour synaesthesia (where achromatic graphemes evoke colour experiences) by examining facial identity and facial emotion perception in grapheme-colour synaesthetes and non-synaesthete controls. Our results indicate that individuals who experience grapheme-colour synaesthesia outperformed controls on tasks involving fine visual discrimination of facial identity and emotion, but not on tasks involving holistic face processing. These findings are discussed in the context of broader perceptual and cognitive traits previously associated with synaesthesia for colour, with the suggestion that performance benefits shown by grapheme-colour synaesthetes on fine visual discrimination of facial identity and emotion may be related to domain-general visual discrimination biases observed in this group.

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synaesthesia, emotion recognition, identity processing, facial affect, synesthesia

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4 November 2016Accepted
11 December 2016Published Online

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Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2017 09:57

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:25

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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