Is it for real? Evaluating authenticity of musical pitch-space synesthesia

O. Linkovski, L. Akiva-Kabiri, L. Gertner, A. Henik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In spatial-sequence synesthesia, ordinal sequences are visualized in explicit spatial locations. We examined a recently documented subtype in which musical notes are represented in spatial configurations, to verify consistency and automaticity of musical pitch-space (M-S) synesthesia. An M-S synesthete performed a mapping pre-task (Exp. 1) used to indicate the locations of 7 auditory or visually presented notes, in 2 sessions a month apart. Results revealed strong correlations between sessions, suggesting the synesthete's musical forms were consistent over time. Experiment 2 assessed automaticity of M-S synesthesia. The same synesthete and matched controls preformed a spatial Stroop-like task. Participants were presented with an auditory or visual musical note and then had to reach for an asterisk (target) with a mouse cursor. The target appeared in a compatible or incompatible location (according to the synesthete's spatial representation). A compatibility effect was found for the synesthete but not for controls. The synesthete was significantly faster when the target appeared in compatible locations than in incompatible ones. Our findings show that for synesthetes, auditory and visually presented notes automatically trigger attention to specific spatial locations according to their specific M-S associations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S247-S251
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number1 SUPPL
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Music cognition
  • Pitch
  • Spatial attention
  • Spatial stroop
  • Synesthesia


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