Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 196, Issue 4, pp 565–571

Enhanced sensory perception in synaesthesia

Research Note


Previous findings imply that synaesthetic experience may have consequences for sensory processing of stimuli that do not themselves trigger synaesthesia. For example, synaesthetes who experience colour show enhanced perceptual processing of colour compared to non-synaesthetes. This study aimed to investigate whether enhanced perceptual processing was a core property of synaesthesia by contrasting tactile and colour sensitivity in synaesthetes who experience either colour, touch, or both touch and colour as evoked sensations. For comparison the performance of non-synaesthetic control subjects was also assessed. There was a relationship between the modality of synaesthetic experience and the modality of sensory enhancement. Synaesthetes who experience colour have enhanced colour sensitivity and synaesthetes who experience touch have enhanced tactile sensitivity. These findings suggest the possibility that a hyper-sensitive concurrent perceptual system is a general property of synaesthesia and are discussed in relation to theories of the condition.


Synaesthesia Colour Touch Sensory perception Multisensory processing Cross-modal plasticity 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Banissy
    • 1
  • Vincent Walsh
    • 1
  • Jamie Ward
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences, Institute of Cognitive NeuroscienceUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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