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Is synaesthesia associated with any cognitive impairments? An examination of numerical processing.

Collins, J.M.; (2005) Is synaesthesia associated with any cognitive impairments? An examination of numerical processing. Masters thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

Synaesthesia is the involuntary experience of sensations, normally associated with one modality through another. It is thought to have a biological and genetic origin and other researchers have suggested that it could result in an uneven profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. The aim of this study was to identify potential deficiencies in arithmetical abilities and right-left discrimination between synaesthetes and matched control subjects. The hypothesis, based on the literature, suggested that synaesthetes would demonstrate impaired mathematical abilities and show signs of right-left confusability. A questionnaire and an array of objective tests were carried out to test this hypothesis. The subjective data reflects the literature, with significantly more synaesthetes reporting arithmetic problems and right-left confusion. The objective data, however, reveals no significant difference between synaesthetes and controls for basic arithmetic and right-left distinction tasks. These objective tests consisted of several response time measures of arithmetic, subitization, and left-right judgments. It is concluded that these problems are not a ubiquitous feature of synaesthesia, although they may be present in a subset of synaesthetes. Another line of evidence is presented that demonstrates a higher than expected occurrence of visuo-spatial mental number forms amongst our synaesthetic population. The role of spatial numerical processing is discussed as a possible explanation for the discrepancy between subjective and objective analyses whilst numerical ability is not affected on a global level, numerical processing may be constrained by synaesthete's mental number forms, which are often complex and convoluted. The implications of this study are discussed in light of normal models of numerical processing.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Is synaesthesia associated with any cognitive impairments? An examination of numerical processing.
Identifier: PQ ETD:594065
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1446373
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