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Synesthesia - Wikipedia
Glossary of Neurological Terms | Internet Stroke Center
As noted above, theories of embodied cognition propose that the brain's systems for perception and action are used in cognition. We have suggested that both types of simulation can be disinhibited in some people, resulting in synesthesia in the case of the sensory system (see also Simner and Ward, ), and release phenomena in the case of the motor system (see also McBride et al., ). The question might be asked why the two types of disinhibition are not more analogous: why, for instance, do we not see cases of synesthesia often arising as a result of stroke? Our first answer is that the types of inhibition involved are somewhat different. In the case of motor embodiment, it is suggested that a motor plan is initiated, but not executed. In sensory embodiment, on the other hand, perceptual information is activated, but does not, in most people, reach conscious perceptual awareness. These two forms of “inhibition” are doubtlessly underpinned by very different mechanisms. Secondly, there are in fact cases of synesthesia-like experiences occurring in non-synesthetes following brain damage (e.g., Ro et al., ; Brogaard et al., ). There are also cases where it emerged after the patient became blind late in life (Armel and Ramachandran, ), or under the influence of hallucinogens (see Luke and Terhune, , for review), or after long experience with meditation (Walsh, ). They have even been experimentally induced by post-hypnotic suggestion (Cohen Kadosh et al., ). While there is disagreement as to the extent to which developmental, acquired, and other forms of synesthesia might share common mechanisms (Sinke et al., , but cf. Brogaard, ), these examples nonetheless support the hypothesis that the cognition-perception links seen in synesthesia may exist in some inhibited form in all people, and may become “released” following trauma, disease or unusual environmental interactions.
So far, we have argued that the connections between perception and cognition seen in synesthesia might be present in all people, but inhibited in the general population, consistent with embodied theories of language and cognition. However, these theories are in fact best-known as they apply to action: i.e., that action concepts (and the semantics of action words) are also embodied, this time in the motor system. This widespread view of embodiment suggests that perceiving and understanding action words (e.g., “hit”) or indeed observing the actions of others, involves mentally simulating them. So if synesthesia is the result of disinhibited simulation in the sensory system, what would be the result of disinhibition of embodied simulation in the motor system? (Our hypothesis thus far certainly predicts there might be such a phenomenon.) In response we point to candidates from the range of behaviors known as “motor release phenomena.”
Synesthesia part 2: how we think it might occur in the brain
Some believe this phenomenon supports the disinhibition hypothesis.
Several correlations have been found between synesthesia and other traits, including:
Synesthetes are very sensitive to external stimuli.
Synesthetes are usually very creative and artistic.
Synesthetes oftentimes experience trouble with math, writing, and confusing their left from their right.
Having one type of synesthesia results in a 50% greater likelihood of having a second type.
For mirror-touch synaesthetes, they actually feel as though they're being touched.
What causes synesthesia?
The main theory is currently
Everyone goes through developmental pruning, which is the loss of non-essential brain connections during childhood
Scientists believe that this process doesn't happen to the same extent in synesthetes, leaving structural and functional differences
This excess of neural pathways would lead to the simultaneous activation of various cortical areas that would not normally be connected
THEORY 1: The Cross-Activation Hypothesis
Proven factors that influence synesthesia:
What causes synesthesia?
THEORY 2: The Disinhibition Hypothesis
Due to the fact that this theory is less testable, this theory is less widely accepted than the cross-activation hypothesis.
Disinhibition states that while excitation of neurons is balanced by inhibition in normal brains, excitation overcomes the weaker inhibition
Therefore, this faulty inhibition among the brain's pathways results in 'leakage' between the senses
synesthesia tends to run in families, with around 40% of synesthetes knowing at least one other family member who is also a synesthete.
Things that most of us experience in a single modality (e.g
Some believe this phenomenon supports the disinhibition hypothesis
Mirror Neurons and Mirror-Touch Synesthesia - …
Mirror neuron - Wikipedia
Synesthesia used to be regarded as a rare condition but ..
Encyclopedia of Psychology
2001a) or disinhibition (Armel ..
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