Synesthesia and the Synesthetic Experience

** References and Readings **

[ Online Information ] [ Researchers Seeking Subjects ] [ Additional Readings ]

Online Information

The research journal Psyche contains several submissions on synesthesia:

The Synaesthesia Mailing List helps synesthetes worldwide discuss their experiences. To subscribe, send a message to Sean Day, the list administrator, at

Trends in colored letter synesthesia is a research summary conducted by Sean Day and posted to the Synesthesia Mailing List in May 1996. The data comes from looking at the statements of 43 separate synesthetes collected between 1891 and the present day.

The International Synesthesia Association (ISA) site contains extensive, detailed information on the phenomenon and summaries of current research findings.

Synaesthesia - A Unity of Senses contains definitions and information on different types of synesthesia and a list of famous people possessing this ability.

The Synesthesia Information Page discusses synesthesia as portrayed in the arts and media over time. The site also contains a good reference bibliography.

The MIT Media Lab's synesthesia page was developed by Steve Mann as relates to his work on wearcam (note: Steve's sites do not appear to be online at all times).

Researchers Seeking Subjects

Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen and Dr. John Harrison want to hear from women synaesthetes who are pregnant or have young infants. They need volunteers for a new study on infancy and synaesthesia. Contact Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen by email or at the ISA, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB UK. (Simon Baron-Cohen is a UK scientist who theorizes that synesthesia is the normal state of the brain in infancy and that most people lose it in favor of perceptual modularity through the normal course of development. See his writings (noted below) or his article in the journal Psyche for more complete details.)

Dr. Richard Cytowic is a US researcher who believes that synesthesia is a special ability possessed only by a certain few individuals. See his writings (noted below) or his article in the journal Psyche for more complete details.

Dr. Peter Grossenbacher and doctoral student Chris Lovelace use structured interviews to investigate the range of synesthetic experience. They suggest that similarities to non-synesthetic perception provide clues about the underlying nature of synesthesia.

Dr. John Harrison welcomes volunteers with colored hearing synaesthesia to participate in his ongoing study which looks at brain activity in people with synaesthesia. He can be contacted by email or by phone at 01223-3336098.

Tony Monaco of the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Genetics in Oxford, UK, is carrying out a "linkage study" of families in which several families have synaesthesia. The researchers want to know if synaesthesia is genetic, and if it is, how it is passed on. He is looking for volunteers who are prepared to give a blood sample for genetic analysis. He can be contacted through Shehlagh Eggo at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK Tel. 01223-333557 for further information.

Membership in the ISA is available by contacting Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen at Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, United Kingdom, or Carol Steen in the US. (Yearly dues are $10.00 US, $12.00 Canadian or 5 Pounds British Sterling. The dues include the receipt of 2 newsletters yearly and notification of the ISA yearly meeting.

Additional Readings

Baron-Cohen, Simon & Harrison, John (1996) Synesthesia: Classic and Contemporary Readings Oxford: Blackwells

Baron-Cohen, Simon, & Wyke, Maria A., & Binnie, Colin, (1987). Hearing words and seeing colours: an experimental investigation of a case of synaesthesia Perception 16:761-67.

BBC (1994), Orange Sherbert Kisses, TV documentary, Teresa Hunt, producer

Cytowic, Richard E.(1993). The Man who Tasted Shapes Cambridge: MIT Press (reissue available Spring 1998, or email

Cytowic, Richard E. (1989). Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses New York: Springer Verlag.

Cytowic, Richard E. & Wood, Frank B. (1982). Synesthesia: I. A review of major theories and their brain basis Brain and cognition 1:23-35.

Cytowic, Richard E. & Wood, Frank B. (1982). Synestheasia: II. Psychological relations in the synesthesia of geometrically shaped taste and colored hearing Brain and cognition 1:36-49.

Dann, Kevin (in press). Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Modern Search for Transcendental Knowledge Yale University Press.

Grossenbacher, P. G. (Ed.) (in press). Finding Consciousness in the Brain: A Neurocognitive Approach Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Karwoski, T. F., Odbert, H. S., & Osgood, C. E. (1942). Studies in synaesthetic thinking: II. The role of form in visual responses to music Journal of General Psychology, vol. 26, 199-222.

Luria, A.R. (1968). The Mind of a Mnemonist New York: Basic Books.

Messiaen, O. (1956). Technique de mon Language Musicale Paris: Alphonse Leduc.

Migunov A., & Pertseva T. (1994), in: Languages of Design - Formalism for Words, Image and Sound, ed. Lauzzana, R.G., vol.2, USA .

Nabokov, V. (1966). Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited New York: Dover.

Nabokov, V. (1989). Selected Letters 1940-1977 London, Vintage, 59.

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