Months in space: Synaesthesia modulates attention and action

Liana Diesendruck, Limor Gertner, Lior Botzer, Liat Goldfarb, Amir Karniel, Avishai Henik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Month-space synaesthetes experience months as sequences arranged in spatially defined configurations. While most works on synaesthesia have studied its perceptual implications, this study focuses on the synaesthetic influence on a synaesthete's action behaviour. S.M., a month-space synaesthete, and 5 matched controls performed a spatial Stroop-like task in a haptics and virtual reality combined environment, which was especially designed to simulate S.M.'s three-dimensional synaesthetic experience. In the experiment, a circle and a word were presented simultaneously. The word consisted of either a month name or a direction name and was located at the centre of the screen, while the circle was displayed in one of four peripheral positions-top, bottom, right, or left. When S.M. was asked to ignore the word and reach for the circle, no effects were found. In contrast, when she was asked to ignore the circle and reach for a location indicated by the word, a congruency effect was found for both months and direction words. Crucially, these effects were evident in all measurements of reaching performance (i.e., path, velocity, and trajectory of movement). Our findings revealed that for month-space synaesthetes, months trigger spatial shifts of attention in a similar manner as directions do. Moreover, these shifts of attention affected not only latent cognitive processes (i.e., reaction time) but also overt behaviour (i.e., entire hand movements).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-679
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to ∗Limor Gertner, Department of Psychology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O. Box 635, Beer-Sheva, Israel 84105 (Email: ∗Liana Diesendruck and Limor Gertner contributed equally to this research. This research was partially supported by a grant to A.H. from the Israeli Science Foundation (Grant 431/05). We also wish to thank Gabriel Meloul for his help with drawing.


  • Month-space synaesthesia
  • Perception and action
  • Spatial attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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