Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 11 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides a review of the hypothesis that synesthetic-like perception is present in infants and toddlers. Infants and very young children exhibit evidence of functional hyperconnectivity between the senses, much of which is reminiscent of the cross-sensory associations observed in synaesthetic adults. As most of these cross-sensory correspondances cannot be easily explained by learning, it is likely that these represent natural associations between the senses. In average adults, these 'natural associations' (e.g., large = loud) are felt only intuitively rather than explicitly. These observations have led to the proposal of the 'neonatal synaesthesia hypothesis', which purports that all individuals are born synaesthetic, with explicit conscious perception of these natural cross-modal associations dissipating over development in typical individuals. This dissipation is likely the result of experience-dependent synaptic pruning and/or inhibition of cross-sensory neural connections. At the same time, cross-modal associations matching those common in the environment might be assumed to be learned. This hypothesis is re-evaluated in light of recent research findings, and is examined in the context of current evolutionary models of neuronal recycling and emerging evidence of longitudinal changes in children with synaesthesia.

Keywords: synaesthesia, development, plasticity, evolution, multimodal processing

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.