Mechanisms of synesthesia: cognitive and physiological constraints

Trends Cogn Sci. 2001 Jan 1;5(1):36-41. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(00)01571-0.


Synesthesia is a conscious experience of systematically induced sensory attributes that are not experienced by most people under comparable conditions. Recent findings from cognitive psychology, functional brain imaging and electrophysiology have shed considerable light on the nature of synesthesia and its neurocognitive underpinnings. These cognitive and physiological findings are discussed with respect to a neuroanatomical framework comprising hierarchically organized cortical sensory pathways. We advance a neurobiological theory of synesthesia that fits within this neuroanatomical framework.