Synesthetic Binding and the Reactivation Model of Memory

In Ophelia Deroy (ed.), Sensory Blending: On Synaesthesia and Related Phenomena. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

Berit Brogaard
University of Miami
Despite the recent surge in research on, and interest in, synesthesia, the mechanism underlying this condition is still unknown. Feedforward mechanisms involving overlapping receptive fields of sensory neurons as well as feedback mechanisms involving a lack of signal disinhibition have been proposed. Here I show that a broad range of studies of developmental synesthesia indicate that the mechanism underlying the phenomenon may involve reinstatement of brain activity in different sensory or cognitive streams in a way that is similar to what happens during memory retrieval of semantically associated items. In the paper’s final sections I look at the relevance of synesthesia research, given the memory model, to our understanding of multisensory perception and common mapping patterns.
Keywords grapheme-color synesthesia  cross-modal integration  multisensory perception  sensory recruitment model  semantic memory  illusions and hallucinations
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