More Similarity to Humans: Chimpanzees Do Experience Synaesthesia

Posted by redcherry | On: Jan 05 2012
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Synaesthesia is a condition in which the perception of someone is mixed, between numbers and colors, tones and colors, or even between emotion and the texture of something. The fact is, synaesthesia is not a disorder or abnormality that happens on human, but it is a ‘condition’ of mind that is possessed by a few people in this world.

When the study of synaesthesia on human is still ongoing, the scientists are shocked by the fact that chimpanzees also experience synaesthesia. Just like human, they can associate sounds with colours, light objects with high tones and dark objects with deeper tones as reported by the Huffington Post.

This discovery was stated by Vera Ludwig, a cognitive neuroscientist at Charite Medical University in Berlin, Germany, who said that somehow chimps have their senses interlinked.

Ludwig, in order to determine whether humans learn to associate sounds and colours from others or originally innate, worked together with her colleagues at Kyoto University in Japan to examine this phenomenon towards six chimps aged 8 to 32. They were shown a screen that showed a black or white square that emerged after they heard a a or low tune from the machine. If they made a right choice, they would get fruit from the machine.

Usually, people who have synaesthesia will associate high-pitched sounds with lighter and low-picthed sounds with dark or high vowels, such as ‘mil’, as white, for example, and lower-toned syllables, such as ‘mol’, as black.

Just like the test did on humans, this test also associated high tones with white squares and low tones were matched with black. The result was shocking as the animals were correct 93% of the time, and while the colours and sounds were versed, they got 90% correct of the time.

The result clearly stated that chimps do experience synaesthesia just like humans do, but, as Edward Hubbard, a neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, said, human experienced more complex synaesthesia compared to chimps, or other non-humans that have synaesthesia.

Huffington Post

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