Synesthesia, sensory-motor contingency, and semantic emulation: how swimming style-color synesthesia challenges the traditional view of synesthesia


Authors
Markus Werning
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Aleksandra Mroczko-Wasowicz
National Yang Ming University
Abstract
Synesthesia is a phenomenon in which an additional nonstandard perceptual experience occurs consistently in response to ordinary stimulation applied to the same or another modality. Recent studies suggest an important role of semantic representations in the induction of synesthesia. In the present proposal we try to link the empirically grounded theory of sensory-motor contingency and mirror system based embodied simulation to newly discovered cases of swimming-style color synesthesia. In the latter color experiences are evoked only by showing the synesthetes a picture of a swimming person or asking them to think about a given swimming style. Neural mechanisms of mirror systems seem to be involved here. It has been shown that for mirror-sensory synesthesia, such as mirror-touch or mirror-pain synesthesia, concurrent experiences are caused by the overactivity in the mirror neuron system responding to the specific observation. The comparison of different forms of synesthesia has the potential of challenging conventional thinking on this phenomenon and providing a more general, sensory-motor account of synesthesia encompassing cases driven by semantic or emulational rather than pure sensory or motor representations
Keywords synesthesia   sensory-motor contingency   simulation   emulative semantics   frames   hyperbinding
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DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00279
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