Better Together? The Cognitive Advantages of Synaesthesia for Time, Numbers and Space

Cappelletti, Marinella. 2014. Better Together? The Cognitive Advantages of Synaesthesia for Time, Numbers and Space. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 31(7-8), pp. 545-564. ISSN 0264-3294 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Synaesthesia for time, numbers and space (TNS synaesthesia) is thought to have costs and benefits for recalling and manipulating time and number. There are two competing theories about how TNS synaesthesia affects cognition. The ‘magnitude’ account predicts TNS synaesthesia may affect cardinal magnitude judgements, whereas the ‘sequence’ account suggests it may affect ordinal sequence judgements and could rely on visuospatial working memory. We aimed to comprehensively assess the cognitive consequences of TNS synaesthesia and distinguish between these two accounts. TNS synaesthetes, grapheme-colour synaesthetes and non-synaesthetes completed a behavioural task battery. Three tasks involved cardinal and ordinal comparisons of temporal, numerical and spatial stimuli; we also examined visuospatial working memory. TNS synaesthetes were significantly more accurate than non-synaesthetes in making ordinal judgements about space. This difference was explained by significantly higher visuospatial working memory accuracy. Our findings demonstrate an advantage of TNS synaesthesia which is more in line with the sequence account.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Synaesthesia, Time, Number, Sequence–space, Working memory

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Cognitive Neuroscience Unit


10 October 2014Published
15 September 2014Accepted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 Jul 2018 10:15

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:47

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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