Enhanced Memory Ability: Insights from Synaesthesia


People with synaesthesia show an enhanced memory relative to demographically matched controls. The most obvious explanation for this is that the `extra' perceptual experiences lead to richer encoding and retrieval opportunities of stimuli which induce synaesthesia (typically verbal stimuli). Although there is some evidence for this, it is unlikely to be the whole explanation. For instance, not all stimuli which trigger synaesthesia are better remembered (e.g., digit span) and some stimuli which do not trigger synaesthesia are better remembered. In fact, synaesthetes tend to have better visual memory than verbal memory. We suggest that enhanced memory in synaesthesia is linked to wider changes in cognitive systems at the interface of perception and memory and link this to recent findings in the neuroscience of memory.

Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews