NABOKV-L post 0000636, Thu, 6 Jul 1995 11:57:52 -0700

EDITORS NOTE: Some months ago NABOKV-L ran a number of items on
synaesthesia--something that VN was "inordinately prone to" and which he
discusses in his autobiography. It has been suggested that it played some
role in his creative process. Much of the discussion arose from the BBC
TV program "Horizon" which did an hour show on the subject drawing in
part on Nabokov and his son Dmitri, who also is a synaesthete. Dmitri was
interviewed. The following citation, supplied by Marianne Cotogno, may be
of interest to those interested in VN's synaesthesia. Cytowyc, the
author, mentions VN in his earlier work.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 1995 12:17:57 -0400 (EDT)
From: Marianne <>

From: IN%"PSYCHE-D@IRIS.RFMH.ORG" "Psyche-D" 5-JUL-1995 21:10:30.45
Subj: CFC: Cytowic on Synesthesia


PSYCHE, an interdisciplinary electronic journal of research on
consciousness, will very shortly publish the article:

"Synesthesia: Phenomenology and Neuropsychology" by Richard E. Cytowic

We invite your views on this article.

Below is the abstract of the article which has been selected as the
subject of a round of commentaries. If you are interested in
contributing to the discussion, please contact me and the article will
be forwarded to you.

Stephen Jackson
University of Wales, Bangor

A review of current knowledge

Richard E. Cytowic


KEYWORDS: consciousness, emotion, perception, subjectivity,
synesthesia, neurology.

ABSTRACT: Synesthesia (Greek, *syn* = together + *aisthesis* =
perception) is the involuntary physical experience of a cross-modal
association. That is, the stimulation of one sensory modality
reliably causes a perception in one or more different senses. Its
phenomenology clearly distinguishes it from metaphor, literary
tropes, sound symbolism, and deliberate artistic contrivances that
sometimes employ the term "synesthesia" to describe their
multisensory joinings. An unexpected demographic and cognitive
constellation co-occurs with synesthesia: females and
non-right-handers predominate, the trait is familial, and memory is
superior while math and spatial navigation suffer. Synesthesia
appears to be a left-hemisphere function that is not cortical in
the conventional sense. The hippocampus is critical for its
experience. Five clinical features comprise its diagnosis.
Synesthesia is "abnormal" only in being statistically rare. It is,
in fact, a normal brain process that is prematurely displayed to
consciousness in a minority of individuals.

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