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Dr Peter Walker

Formerly at Lancaster University

Research Interests

I am a Reader in Visual Cognition, a title which tells you where my interests lie within psychology. 

I am currently studying cross-sensory correspondences (sometimes referred to as weak synaesthesia) as an aspect of visual and multisensory cognition.  Correspondences are observed in everyday life when we hear people refer to the smoothness and heaviness of a perfume, the brightness, sharpness, and heaviness of a sound, and the warmth and loudness of a colour.  In addition, when asked, people will agree that lemons are fast, that brighter coloured snooker balls make higher pitch sounds than darker snooker balls, and that darker pebbles are heavier than brighter pebbles.  In carefully designed experiments I investigate what these and related phenomena tell us about multisensory cognition. 

Current projects include:

1. Cross-sensory correspondences and language: How correspondences contribute to symbolism in language, including sound symbolism and the visual symbolism mediated by the typefaces in which words appear.

2. The innate and learned (linguistic and non-linguistic) origins of cross-sensory correspondences, including their presence in neonates and infants.

3. The contributions of cross-sensory correspondences to the visual arts and to music, including how professional jazz musicians (saxophonists) exploit correspondences to communicate concepts in their improvisations.

4. The functional significance of cross-sensory correspondences for human-machine interfaces, especially how they might give rise to powerful stimulus-response compatibility effects.

I am also studying directional biases in the perception of lateral visual movement, including their links to language (reading direction) and hand dominance.

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