Synaesthesia: A Case Study of Discordant Monozygotic Twins Journal Articles uri icon

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  • We describe a study of 11-year-old twin sisters who are physically identical in appearance but who have considerably different conscious experiences. One twin appears to be a synaesthete in that she states that she has specific colour experiences (i.e. photisms) whenever she views, hears or thinks of digits. The other twin does not report such conscious experiences when viewing, hearing or thinking about digits. A genotypic analysis using eight microsatellite loci plus the gender of the twins and their parents confirmed that the twins are monozygotic. A phenotypic analysis using a modification of the Stroop task confirmed that only one twin is a synaesthete. We suggest that the discordance in synaesthesia may be due to either an epigenetic event, X chromosome inactivation, or a mutation of a synaesthesia gene.


  • Smilek, D
  • Moffatt, BA
  • Pasternak, J
  • White, Bradley
  • Dixon, MJ Dixon
  • Merikle, PM

publication date

  • October 2002