Synesthesia and Savantism

Mary Jane Spiller and Ashok J. Jansari

in Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia

Published in print December 2013 | ISBN: 9780199603329
Published online December 2013 | | DOI:
Synesthesia and Savantism

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Psychology


Show Summary Details


This chapter considers whether synaesthesia can be seen as a foundation for savantism. It has been proposed that the co-occurrence of synaesthesia and obsessive tendencies typical of autistic spectrum disorders, can result in exceptional skills in particular domains. We present two case studies that have been used to explore these ideas, illustrating the extent to which their forms of synaesthesia, in conjunction with their atypical cognitive and behavioural profiles have contributed to these individuals' exceptional memory skills. From the limited evidence available it would appear that synaesthesia can be seen to contribute towards some savant skills, but gaps in our knowledge are highlighted, with clear suggestions for future research in order to enhance our understanding of the impact synaesthesia can have on our cognitive abilities.

Keywords: Savantism; savant; Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD); Asperger syndrome; visuo-spatial forms; synaesthesia; digit span; autobiographical memory

Article.  10834 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Cognitive Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.