When blue is larger than red: Colors influence numerical cognition in synesthesia

Roi Cohen Kadosh, Noam Sagiv, David E.J. Linden, Lynn C. Robertson, Gali Elinger, Avishai Henik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


In synesthesia, certain stimuli ("inducers") may give rise to perceptual experience in additional modalities not normally associated with them ("concurrent"). For example, color-grapheme synesthetes automatically perceive achromatic numbers as colored (e.g., 7 is turquoise). Although synesthetes know when a given color matches the one evoked by a certain number, colors do not automatically give rise to any sort of number experience. The behavioral consequences of synesthesia have been documented using Stroop-like paradigms, usually using color judgments. Owing to the unidirectional nature of the synesthetic experience, little has been done to obtain performance measures that could indicate whether bidirectional cross-activation occurs in synesthesia. Here it is shown that colors do implicitly evoke numerical magnitudes in color-grapheme synesthetes, but not in nonsynesthetic participants. It is proposed that bidirectional coactivation of brain areas is responsible for the links between color and magnitude processing in color-grapheme synesthesia and that unidirectional models of synesthesia might have to be revised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1766-1773
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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