Tactile-emotion synesthesia. - GreenMedInfo Summary
Neurocase. 2008 ;14(5):390-9. Epub 2008 Sep 27. PMID: 18821168
V S Ramachandran
We discuss experiments on two individuals in whom specific textures (e.g., denim, wax, sandpaper, silk, etc.) evoked equally distinct emotions (e.g., depression, embarrassment, relief, and contentment, respectively). The test/retest consistency after 8 months was 100%. A video camera recorded subjects' facial expressions and skin conductance responses (SCR) were monitored as they palpated different textures. Evaluators' ratings significantly correlated with the valence of synesthetes' subjective reports, and SCR was significantly enhanced for negative synesthetic emotions. We suggest this effect arises from increased cross-activation between somatosensory cortex and insula for 'basic' emotions and fronto-limbic hyperactivation for more subtle emotions. It may represent an enhancement of pre-existing evolutionarily primitive interactions between touch and emotions.