Jason Mattingley will be presenting a talk TODAY from 12-1 in Room 317 titled "Kaleidoscope eyes: anomalous visual experiences in synaesthesia". It will be an excellent talk and not to be missed! Abstract below.
Synaesthesia is an unusual phenomenon in which a stimulus in one sensory modality elicits a vivid and involuntary perception in another modality. Thus, for example, the sound of the letter "A" may induce a sensation of redness, or the taste of roast chicken may feel jagged and angular. The phenomenon has intrigued philosophers, cognitive scientists and neurologists for over a century, yet little is known about its underlying neural and cognitive bases. In this talk I will review the heterogeneous manifestations of synaesthesia, and provide examples of subjective reports given by individuals with these unusual perceptual experiences. I will then describe the results of a recent series of laboratory experiments, in which we have identified a reliable cognitive marker for the colour-graphemic form of synaesthesia. Our data show for the first time that synaesthesia arises automatically, and that it cannot be suppressed even when it is detrimental to task performance. I will conclude by providing a tentative framework within which to understand the neural and cognitive bases of synaesthesia, and offer some suggestions for future research.