The Effects of Synesthesia on Recall Memory Abilities in Teenagers


  • Emily Borr Wekiva High School
  • Michael Kellen Wekiva High School



synesthesia, memory, teenagers


Synesthesia is a rare phenomenon in which people associate an inducer, such as a sound, song, or sequence of time, with a specific concurrent, such as a color, shape, or physical sensation. Very little is known about what causes this phenomenon, although due to a recent influx of research, it has been recorded that synesthesia provides a wide array of cognitive benefits to those who experience it, with the most notable being memory. Children with synesthesia in group studies have not been shown to have advantageous memory, while adults with synesthesia in group studies have shown the opposite. However, a group study of this nature has never been conducted on teenagers with synesthesia, despite this being the age range where advantageous memory would seem likely to manifest. This study conducts an experimental analysis on the relationship between synesthesia and advantageous memory in teenagers for immediate, delayed, and matrix recall memory. The results of this study show that teenagers with synesthesia have a memory advantage in matrix recall memory, leading to the conclusion that, for some types of memory, synesthesia begins to provide a benefit in the years of adolescence.


Download data is not yet available.

References or Bibliography

Banissy, M. J., et al. (2013). Personality traits in people with synaesthesia: Do synaesthetes have an atypical personality profile? Personality and Individual Differences, 54(7), 828-831.

Bankieris, K., Aslin, R. (2016). Explicit associative learning and memory in synesthetes and non synesthetes. i-Perception, 7(5), 1–12.

Brang, D., Miller, L. E., McQuire, M., Ramachandran, V. S., Coulson, S. (2013). Enhanced mental rotation ability in time-space synesthesia. Cognitive Processing, 14(4), 429-434.

Chun, C. A., Hupé, J. (2015). Are synesthetes exceptional beyond their synesthetic associations? A systematic comparison of creativity, personality, cognition, and mental imagery in synesthetes and controls. British Journal of Psychology, 107(3), 397-418.

Eagleman, D. M., et al. (2007). A standardized test battery for the study of synesthesia. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 159(1), 139-145.

Green, J. A. K., & Goswami, U. (2008). Synaesthesia and number cognition in children. Cognition, 106,463–473.

Gross, V., Neargarder, S. (2011). Superior encoding enhances recall in color-graphemic synesthesia. Perception, 40(2), 196-208.

Hale, J., Thompson, J. M., Morgan, H. M., Cappelletti, M., & Cohen Kadosh, R. (2014). Better together? The cognitive advantages of synaesthesia for time, numbers, and space. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 31(7/8), 545–564.

Hanggi, J., et al. (2011). Globally Altered Structural Brain Topology in Grapheme-Color Synesthesia. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(15), 5816-5828.

Kadosh, R., Gertner, L., Terhune, D. (2011). Exceptional Abilities in the Spatial Representation of Numbers and Time: Insights from Synesthesia. The Neuroscientist, 18(3), 208-215.

Lunke, K., & Meier, B. (2018). New insights into mechanisms of enhanced synaesthetic memory: Benefits are synaesthesia-type-specific. PLoS ONE, 13(9), 1–17.

Luria, A. R. (1968). The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book About a Vast Memory.

Meier, B., Rothen, N. (2013). Grapheme-color synaesthesia is associated with a distinct cognitive style. Frontiers in Psychology, 4(632).

Meier, B., Rey-Mermet, A., & Rothen, N. (2015). Turning univalent stimuli bivalent: Synesthesia can cause cognitive conflict in task switching. Cognitive Neuroscience, 6(2/3), 48–55.

Novich, S., Cheng, S., Eagleman, D. M. (2011). Is synaesthesia one condition or many? A large‐scale analysis reveals subgroups. Journal of Neuropsychopathy, 5(2), 353-371.

Pfeifer, G., et al. (2014). Associative memory advantage in grapheme-color synesthetes compared to older, but not young adults. Frontiers in Psychology.

Pfeifer, G., Ward, J., Chan, D., & Sigala, N. (2016). Representational Account of Memory: Insights from Aging and Synesthesia. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28(12), 1987–2002.

Radvansky, G., & Gibson, B. (2011). Synesthesia and Memory: Color Congruency, von Restorff, and False Memory Effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning Memory and Cognition, 37(1), 219-229.

Robinson, C. (2015). Synesthesia and Memory: An Exploratory Analysis. Modern Psychological Studies,21(1), 84–93.

Rothen, N., et al., (2012). Enhanced memory ability: Insights from synaesthesia. Neurosci.Biobehav. Rev.

Rothen, N., Meier, B. (2009). Do Synesthetes Have a General Advantage in Visual Search and Episodic Memory? A Case for Group Studies. PLoS ONE 4(4): e5037.

Rothen, N., Meier, B. (2010). Grapheme-colour synaesthesia yields an ordinary rather than extraordinary memory advantage: Evidence from a group study. Memory, 18(3), 258–264.

Rouw, R., Scholte, H.S., (2016). Personality and cognitive profiles of a general synesthetic trait. Neuropsychologia, 88, 35-48.

Simner, J., Bain, A. E. (2013).A longitudinal study of grapheme-color synesthesia in childhood: 6/7 years to 10/11 years. Frontiers in Psychology.

Simner, J., Bain, A. E. (2018). Do children with grapheme-colour synaesthesia show cognitive benefits? British Journal of Psychology, 109(1), 118–136. Retrieved from

Simner, J., Ipser, A., Smees, R., Alvarez, J. (2017). Does synaesthesia age? Changes in the quality and consistency of synaesthetic associations. Neuropsychologia, 106, 407-416.

Smees, R., Hughes, J., Carmichael, D. A., Simner, J. (2019). Learning in colour: children with grapheme-colour synaesthesia show cognitive benefits in vocabulary and self-evaluated reading. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 374(1787).

Smilek, D., Dixon, M., Cudahy, C. (2002). Synesthetic color experiences influence memory. Psychological Science, 13(6), 548-552.

Ward, J., Hovard, P., Jones, A., Rothen, N. (2013). Enhanced recognition memory in grapheme-color synaesthesia for different categories of visual stimuli. Frontiers in Psychology, 4(762).

Witthoft, N., & Winawer, J. (2013). Learning, memory, and synesthesia. Psychological science, 24(3), 258–265.



How to Cite

Borr, E., & Kellen, M. (2020). The Effects of Synesthesia on Recall Memory Abilities in Teenagers. Journal of Student Research, 9(1).



AP Research Articles