March Virtual Behavioural and Experimental Economics Research Seminar
People with synaesthesia have extraordinary ways of experiencing the world (e.g. music is seen as well as heard). In this talk I will argue that synaesthetic experiences are not grafted on to a 'normal' mind and brain but are, in themselves, a marker of a wider suite of differences in cognition and brain structure/function. In the first part of the talk I will consider the phenomenology of synaesthesia (which appears to straddle some mix of perception, imagery, and memory) and show how models developed in computational psychiatry can help to address that issue, presenting data from a conditioned hallucinations paradigm. I will then present evidence that synaesthesia is linked to a distinctive cognitive profile which, whilst largely being characterised by enhanced abilities (e.g. in memory, perception), may also predispose towards certain clinical vulnerabilities (e.g. autism, PTSD). I will present some new evidence from neuroimaging (using the Human Connectome Project protocols) that shows how this is underpinned by widespread changes in brain structure including a sharpened cortical myelin profile. That is, synaesthetes are like a hidden subgroup within the general population that challenges us to think about how we need to define and characterise neurodiversity.
This talk is part of the series Invited Speakers - Faculty of Psychology. It will take place in Brig, on the groundfloor of UniDistance Suisse's headquarters. You may also join online. The link for participation in the event is the following: http://bit.ly/unidistance.