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Preverbal Infants' Sensitivity to Synaesthetic Cross-Modality Correspondences.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date01/2010
JournalPsychological Science
Journal number1
Volume21
Number of pages5
Pages21-25
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Stimulation of one sensory modality can induce perceptual experiences in another modality that reflect synaesthetic correspondences among different dimensions of sensory experience. In visual-hearing synaesthesia, for example, higher pitched sounds induce visual images that are brighter, smaller, higher in space, and sharper than those induced by lower pitched sounds. Claims that neonatal perception is synaesthetic imply that such correspondences are an unlearned aspect of perception. To date, the youngest children in whom such correspondences have been confirmed with any certainty were 2- to 3-year-olds. We examined preferential looking to assess 3- to 4-month-old preverbal infants' sensitivity to the correspondences linking auditory pitch to visuospatial height and visual sharpness. The infants looked longer at a changing visual display when this was accompanied by a sound whose changing pitch was congruent, rather than incongruent, with these correspondences. This is the strongest indication to date that synaesthetic cross-modality correspondences are an unlearned aspect of perception.