Mimicking Synesthesia for Passive Augmentation of Music Memory Aug 2019 - Present
** This project has been accepted for publication **
This study is an exploration of whether simulating a synesthesia-like experience on non-synesthetes can enhance their musical memory. Synesthesia is a condition of the human mind where seemingly unrelated senses are experienced simultaneously . An example of this is seeing color when you hear sound or seeing written words and numbers in color. The current data shows that 2% of the population has some degree of this condition, with a larger concentration in artistic communities. This suggests that there might be a correlation between creative skill and sensory experience.
In our study, we presented participants with two songs that contain a melody and a chord progression. For one of the songs, there is a direct correlation between chords and color; which is presented in a Head-Up Display (HUD). The songs are displayed in a repetitive loop for a total of 10 mins of exposure. Participants were instructed to focus on their task at hand, whether it is reading an article or homework, and not turn their attention to the music or colors. At the end of the listening period, participants were given the melody of both songs and asked to rebuild the chord progression. Our experiments revealed that there is not a generalized significant difference in performance between the song with color and the one without. However we did see that for some participants the HUD did help them have a stronger memory of the chord progression and provided a sort of reassurance when trying to rebuild the song.
While we weren't able to demonstrate that chord-color association using our HUD could help all participants remember a chord progression better, we believe this idea could work and are encouraged to test it in different ways.
References  Ramachandran, V.S. and Hubbard, E.M., 2001. Synaesthesia--a window into perception, thought and language. Journal of consciousness studies, 8(12), pp.3-34.
Team Santiago Arconada Alvarez Kevin Key Sumedha Raman Russell Strauss Rikesh Subedi