Can humans learn synaesthesia? Predicting color qualia through fMRI data

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Understanding how subjective experiences, such as color qualia, eventuate is crucial for a better understanding of our own consciousness. The current research aims to identify color qualia of research participants that were implicitly trained on associating letters to colors. These associations were created by reading books in which letters are consistently coupled to certain colors. In both a pre- and a post training test the participants' brain activity was measured with fMRI as they were presented with both colored and achromatic letters. Using this brain data to research the color qualia that participants experience during the fMRI experiment allows us to explore the overarching idea of whether humans can train to form synesthetic associations. Therefore, the main question this project aims to address is whether the training has any effect on how participants experience black letters that they were trained to associate to a particular color. We investigated our research question by testing whether after training, a classifier on the fMRI brain data can identify the trained letter-color associations when viewing achromatic letters. The results showed that the classifier barely performed above chance level, indicating that color qualia could not be reliably predicted in the current analysis.
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