Abstract

When C, a digit-color synaesthete, views black digits, she reports that each digit elicits a highly specific color (a photism), which is experienced as though the color was externally projected onto the digit. We evaluated this claim by assessing whether C's photisms influenced her ability to perceive visually presented digits. C identified and localized target digits presented against backgrounds that were either congruent or incongruent with the color of her photism for the digits. The results showed that C was poorer at identifying and localizing digits on congruent than incongruent trials. Such differences in performance between congruent and incongruent trials were not found with nonsynaesthete control participants. These results suggest that C's colored photisms influence her perception of black digits. We propose a model in which color information influences the perception of digits through reentrant pathways in the visual system.

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