Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
In synesthesia, stimulation of one sensory modality leads to a percept in another nonstimulated modality, for example, graphemes trigger an additional color percept in grapheme–color synesthesia, which encompasses the variants letter–color and digit–color synesthesia. Until recently, it was assumed that synesthesia occurs strictly unidirectional: Although the perception of a letter induces a color percept in letter–color synesthetes, they typically do not report that colors trigger the percept of a letter. Recent data on number processing in synesthesia suggest, however, that colors can implicitly elicit numerical representations in digit–color synesthetes, thereby questioning unidirectional models of synesthesia. Using a word fragment completion paradigm in 10 letter–color synesthetes, we show here for the first time that colors can implicitly influence lexical search. Our data provide strong support for a bidirectional nature of grapheme–color synesthesia and, in general, may allude to the mechanisms of cross-modality interactions in the human brain.