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      Color associations for days and letters across different languages


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          While colors are commonplace in everyday metaphors, relatively little is known about implicit color associations to linguistic or semantic concepts in a general population. In this study, we test color associations for ordered linguistic concepts (letters and days). The culture and language specificity of these effects was examined in a large group (457) of Dutch-speaking participants, 92 English-speaking participants, and 49 Hindi-speaking participants. Non-random distributions of color choices were revealed; consistencies were found across the three language groups in color preferences for both days and letters. Interestingly, while the Hindi-speaking participants were presented with letter stimuli matched on phonology, their pattern of letter-to-color preferences still showed similarities with Dutch- and English-speaking participants. Furthermore, we found that that the color preferences corresponded between participants indicating to have conscious color experiences with letters or days (putative synesthetes) and participants who do not (non-synesthetes). We also explored possible mechanisms underlying the color preferences. There were a few specific associations, including red for “A,” red for “Monday,” and white for “Sunday.” We also explored more general mechanisms, such as overall color preferences as shown by Simner et al. ( 2005). While certainly not all variation can be explained or predicted, the results show that regularities are present in color-to-letter or color-to-day preferences in both putative synesthetes and non-synesthetes across languages. Both letter-to-color and day-to-color preferences were influenced by multiple factors. The findings support a notion of abstract concepts (such as days and letters) that are not represented in isolation, but are connected to perceptual representational systems. Interestingly, at least some of these connections to color representations are shared across different language/cultural groups.

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            Since the time of Pythagoras, numerical and spatial representations have been inextricably linked. We suggest that the relationship between the two is deeply rooted in the brain's organization for these capacities. Many behavioural and patient studies have shown that numerical-spatial interactions run far deeper than simply cultural constructions, and, instead, influence behaviour at several levels. By combining two previously independent lines of research, neuroimaging studies of numerical cognition in humans, and physiological studies of spatial cognition in monkeys, we propose that these numerical-spatial interactions arise from common parietal circuits for attention to external space and internal representations of numbers.
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                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                27 May 2014
                : 5
                1Department Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam Amsterdam, Netherlands
                2Department of Psychology, Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
                Author notes

                Edited by: Michael Banissy, Goldsmiths University of London, UK

                Reviewed by: Fiona N. Newell, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland; Kathleen Akins, Simon Fraser University, Canada; Steffie Tomson, University of California Los Angeles, USA

                *Correspondence: Romke Rouw, Department Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam, Weesperplein 4, 1018 XA Amsterdam, Netherlands e-mail: r.rouw@ 123456uva.nl

                This article was submitted to Cognitive Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

                Copyright © 2014 Rouw, Case, Gosavi and Ramachandran.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 5, Equations: 0, References: 96, Pages: 17, Words: 14752
                Original Research Article

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

                cross-modal, synesthesia, color, metaphor, letters, language, days, association


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