The reality of synesthesia, for example seeing sounds or tasting shapes, has now been verified with imaging that shows parts of the brain at work corresponding to the synesthete's reports rather than the stimulus. Here psychologists, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists from North America, Australia, and Britain explore the phenomenon in terms of perception and attention, consciousness and cognition, and development and learning. Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
Reviewer:Michael Joel Schrift, D.O., M.A.(University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description:This is a fascinating new book on the cognitive neuroscience of synesthesia, the experience of perceiving a sensation in one sensory modality when another sensory modality is stimulated. This phenomenon is important in that it triggers a range of questions concerning awareness and attention, connections with the brain, and the nature of perception as well. The book is written and edited by an array of outstanding researchers in cognitive neuroscience. This was a delightful book to read and is a welcome addition to the cognitive neuroscience field.
Purpose:According to the editors, the purpose of the book is "to simulate thought across a wide spectrum, from computations that could produce such phenomena to philosophical questions of functionalism that the existence of synesthesia may question." Indeed the editors and chapter authors have provided us an excellent book on this intriguing scientific puzzle.
Audience:The intended audience includes psychologists, neurophysiologists, philosophers interested in cognitive neuroscience.
Features:The book features 266 pages divided into 5 sections and 12 chapters. The first section is an overview of synesthesia covering demographics and a variety of experiences. Section Two reviews the literature on the perceptual reality of synesthetic color, color-grapheme synesthesia, the binding problem, and how attention factors in. Section Three addresses the issue of how synesthesia relates to the problem of consciousness. Developmental aspects of synesthesia are summarized in Section Four. The concluding section is a commentary regarding the implications synethesia has for attention, binding, and consciousness. Each chapter contains relevant and up-to-date references. The book ends with a helpful author and subject indices.
Assessment:This is an exciting new book covering a most interesting phenomenon. Anyone interested in cognitive neuroscience should enjoy reading this outstanding coverage of synesthesia.