For synesthetes, sensory or cognitive stimuli induce the perception of an additional sensory or cognitive stimulus. Grapheme–color synesthetes, for instance, consciously and consistently experience particular colors (e.g., fluorescent pink) when perceiving letters (e.g., u). As a phenomenon involving multiple stimuli within or across modalities, researchers have posited that synesthetes may integrate sensory cues differently than non-synesthetes. However, findings to date present mixed results concerning this hypothesis, with researchers reporting enhanced, depressed, or normal sensory integration for synesthetes. In this study we quantitatively evaluated the multisensory integration process of synesthetes and non-synesthetes using Bayesian principles, rather than employing multisensory illusions, to make inferences about the sensory integration process. In two studies we investigated synesthetes’ sensory integration by comparing human behavior to that of an ideal observer. We found that synesthetes integrated cues for both continuous and categorical dimensions in a statistically optimal manner, matching the sensory integration behavior of controls. These findings suggest that synesthetes and controls utilize similar cue integration mechanisms, despite differences in how they perceive unimodal stimuli.
Some demographic and socio-cultural aspects of synesthesia in:
Synesthesia: Perspectives From Cognitive NeuroscienceRobertsonL. C.SagivN. (Eds) pp.
11–33. Oxford University PressNew York, NY, USA.