WHO: Nadiya Slobodenyuk (Prof.), Department of Psychology AUB & Yasmina Jraissati (Dr), Department of Philosophy, AUB
WHEN: December, 2014


Cross-modal correspondences refer to non-arbitrary associations between perceptual experiences across the sensory modalities. A large variety of such associations has been reported (e.g., vocalization and shape, brightness and sound, brightness and elevation in space, flavor and sound). The literature suggests that cross-modal associations can be accounted for on the basis of (1) neural organization, (2) environmental regularities, (3) language, and more specifically (4) semantics.

Associations between touch and color have been rarely explored and their nature is unclear. There are, however, reasons to believe, that these associations could be learned. Color is known to play a role in the materiality assumption (the visual system relies on color to disambiguate different surfaces based on spectral information), and the shape from shading effect (where the three-dimensionality of a visual image is detected from the combination of color and shade). Contour detection mechanisms are also color sensitive.

We conducted two studies at AUB in fall 2013 which aimed at uncovering possible associations between touch and color. In the first study, participants were asked to match haptic sensations to color sensations. In the second study, participants were asked to match haptic terms to color patches. We observed systematic associations between color properties and tactile sensations in both studies. In this presentation, we discuss our findings with regard to four accounts put forward in the literature.

Photo credit: www.zastavki.com