Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Perception 28:5 (1999), pp. 651-664; doi: 10.1068/p2910 Copyright © 1999 Pion Ltd. Used by permission. “The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Perception 28:5 (1999), pp. 651-664; doi: 10.1068/p2910.”


L, a 47-year-old female of Choctaw descent, was first identified as a potential synesthete on the basis of self-report data regarding digit–color associations. Upon completion of the identification procedures typified in the literature, it was concluded that L met the classic memory-performance criteria used to identify synesthetic ability. A series of Stroop-type tasks were then performed to identify the dynamics of her synesthetic experiences. The results of these analyses provided three findings of note. First, the clear pattern of response-time differences between L and the control group suggests that tasks designed to produce involuntary divisions of attention can be an effective means by which to demonstrate that synesthetic experiences are involuntary but elicited. Second, the significantly slower performance by L on a negative-priming Stroop list shaped around her color–digit associations indicates the presence of a lexical component in her synesthetic experience. Third, the use of a manual color-classification task for which a verbal response was not employed served to confirm the presence of a lexical component in L’s synesthetic experiences. The implications of these results for current synesthetic theories are then discussed. Finally, a clustering solution of a portion of L’s color–digit experiences is presented, along with the ramifications of its results on the nature of L’s perceptual experience.