The induction of synaesthesia with chemical agents: a systematic review
- 1Department of Counselling & Psychology, University of Greenwich, Eltham, UK
- 2Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Despite the general consensus that synaesthesia emerges at an early developmental stage and is only rarely acquired during adulthood, the transient induction of synaesthesia with chemical agents has been frequently reported in research on different psychoactive substances. Nevertheless, these effects remain poorly understood and have not been systematically incorporated. Here we review the known published studies in which chemical agents were observed to elicit synaesthesia. Across studies there is consistent evidence that serotonin agonists elicit transient experiences of synaesthesia. Despite convergent results across studies, studies investigating the induction of synaesthesia with chemical agents have numerous methodological limitations and little experimental research has been conducted. Cumulatively, these studies implicate the serotonergic system in synaesthesia and have implications for the neurochemical mechanisms underlying this phenomenon but methodological limitations in this research area preclude making firm conclusions regarding whether chemical agents can induce genuine synaesthesia.
Keywords: drugs, serotonin, synaesthesia
Citation: Luke DP and Terhune DB (2013) The induction of synaesthesia with chemical agents: a systematic review. Front. Psychol. 4:753. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00753
Received: 27 June 2013; Accepted: 27 September 2013;
Published online: 17 October 2013.
Edited by:Michael Banissy, Goldsmiths University of London, UK
Reviewed by:Asifa Majid, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands
David Brang, Northwestern University, USA
Copyright © 2013 Luke and Terhune. 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.
*Correspondence: David P. Luke, Department of Counselling & Psychology, University of Greenwich, Avery Hill Road, Eltham, London, SE9 2UG, UK e-mail: email@example.com;
Devin B. Terhune, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3UD, UK e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
†These authors have contributed equally to this work.