Reduced perceptual narrowing in synesthesia Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Significance The perceptual validity of synesthesia has been established by behavioral and neuroimaging evidence; however, its developmental origins remain unclear. Here we tested the hypothesis that synesthesia arises when there is less experience-dependent pruning during development. We did so by comparing adults with and without synesthesia on another phenomenon that results from experience-dependent pruning: perceptual narrowing of discrimination to native categories (native phonemes and upright human faces) to the detriment of non-native categories (non-native phonemes, chimp faces, and inverted human faces). Synesthetes were better than controls at all of the non-native discriminations, with no difference for the native categories. The results support the hypothesis that in synesthesia, there is decreased experience-dependent modification of the cortical hyperconnectivity present in early development.


  • Maurer, Daphne
  • Ghloum, Julian K
  • Gibson, Laura C
  • Watson, Marcus R
  • Chen, Lawrence M
  • Akins, Kathleen
  • Enns, James T
  • Hensch, Takao K
  • Werker, Janet F

publication date

  • May 5, 2020