Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program

Philosophy; Psychology

Project Advisor 1

Barbara Luka

Project Advisor 2

Kritika Yegnashankaran

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which one type of sensory stimulus causes a perceptually real concurrent experience within another sensory modality (Rogowska, 2011). Absolute pitch is a neurological condition in which individual’s perceive pitch categorically rather than relatively, allowing them to identify pitches by note name (Takeuchi & Hulse, 1993). Following and expanding upon a study by Ward, Huckstep, & Tsaknaikos (2006) this study hypothesizes that a music-color synesthete with absolute pitch would demonstrate a bi-directional Stroop interference effect, indicating a bi-directional synesthesia. This would add support to the hypothesis that music-color synesthesia is caused by a feedback loop within the cross-modal sensory pathways. Comparing the response times of a music-color synesthete with absolute pitch to a control group of three non-synesthetic participants with absolute pitch, this study found no significant difference that would indicate a Stroop-interference effect. It is possible that this is due to the co-occurrence of absolute pitch and music-color synesthesia decreasing the consistency of the music-color associations of the synesthetic participant. Overall, these results are inconclusive and suggest the need for more research on variability between synesthetes. The implications of synesthesia to the philosophical study of phenomenal experience are also discussed. Causal theories of synesthesia reveal facts about sensory experience that limit the accuracy and possibility of first-person subjective accounts of phenomenal experience.

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