Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses

Overview

Most people link senses only by way of metaphoric speech, saying, for example, that red is a "warm" color or that a certain cheese tastes "sharp." But a minority of individuals, known as synesthetes, experience the phrase "I see what you're saying" as literally true. In addition to studying the phenomenon for its own sake, neuroscientists are interested in what synesthesia might reveal about consciousness, the working of nonsynesthetic brains, subjective-objective relations, and...
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Paperback (Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1989)
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Overview

Most people link senses only by way of metaphoric speech, saying, for example, that red is a "warm" color or that a certain cheese tastes "sharp." But a minority of individuals, known as synesthetes, experience the phrase "I see what you're saying" as literally true. In addition to studying the phenomenon for its own sake, neuroscientists are interested in what synesthesia might reveal about consciousness, the working of nonsynesthetic brains, subjective-objective relations, and the relationship between reason and emotion.

In this classic text, Richard Cytowic quickly disposes of earlier criticisms that the phenomenon cannot be "real," demonstrating that it is indeed brain-based. Following a historical introduction, he lays out the phenomenology of synesthesia in detail and gives criteria for clinical diagnosis and an objective "test of genuineness." He reviews theories and experimental procedures to localize the plausible level of the neuraxis at which synesthesia operates. In a discussion of brain development and neural plasticity, he addresses the possible ubiquity of neonatal synesthesia, the construction of metaphor, and whether everyone is unconsciously synesthetic. In the closing chapters, Cytowic considers synesthetes' personalities, the apparent frequency of the trait among artists, and the subjective and illusory nature of what we take to be objective reality, particularly in the visual realm.

The second edition has been extensively revised, reflecting the recent flood of interest in synesthesia and new knowledge of human brain function and development. More than two-thirds of the material is new.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Platek, Keenan, and Shackelford are leaders of the new generation of social and evolutionary neuroscientists. They have assembled a valuable collection of papers which integrate this blossoming field. Their book should be on the desk of any serious student of cognition and the brain who wants a thorough review of the empirical literature seen through a Darwinian lens."—SimonBaron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, University of Cambridge

"This new edition brings the reader interested in synaesthesia rapidly up to date with the scholarly and scientific debates in this field, and will stand as the new textbook on this unusual condition."—Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, University ofCambridge

"In 1989, the first edition of Synesthesia rekindled discussion, which had died down somewhat since the 'synesthesia euphoria' of the 1920s. This new, revised edition explores the many theories that have emerged in the last ten years. No one who is seriously interested in synesthesia can afford to ignore this book."—Joerg Jewanski, Conservatory Muenster, GermanyPlease note: Let's try this once more! Please substitute an "o" with an umlaut for "oe" in "Joerg," and "u" with an umlaut for the "ue" in "Muenster." Note the change in affiliation. Endorser gives permission to excerpt from quote.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781461281498
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Series: Springer Series in Neuropsychology
  • Edition description: Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1989
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 354
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard E. Cytowic, M.D., founded Capitol Neurology, a private clinic in Washington, D.C., and teaches at George Washington University Medical Center. He is the author of Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses and The Man Who Tasted Shapes, both published by the MIT Press.
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Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction.- Synesthetes Speak for Themselves.- Theories of Synesthesia: A Review and a New Proposal.- Overlaps: To What is Synesthesia Similar?- The Neural Substrates of Synesthesia.- Synesthesia and Language.- Synesthesia and Personality.- Synesthesia and Art.- What is Real?- Conclusions.- Appendix.- References.- Index.

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