This pilot study aims to investigate the relationship between mental imagery and synaesthesia which occur while listening to music, on the assumption that the link between music and mental images can be explained by processes involving intermodal different areas of the brain, particularly the auditory and the visual cortex Using tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation) the primary visual cortex (V1) was inhibited, working with a sample of musicians and non musicians. This allowed to investigate its specific role while listening to music. Additional variables were the level of spontaneous use of mental imager and synesthetic abilities. Finally, Eye Tracking technology was used to record behavioural indices of visual exploration while listening to music, which can be linked to mental visualization processes. Results showed that musical expertise and inhibition of V1 affect synesthetic experience and mental imagery while listening to music. In addition, the analysis highlighted the role of specific individual differences (in particular the tendency to use mental images and personality trait linked to imagination) during cognitive and synaesthetic processing of complex musical stimuli.
Keywords: Synesthesia, mental imagery, tDCC, primary visual cortex.
Barbara Colombo, Giuseppe Passalacqua, Chiara Di Nuzzo, Guglielmo Puglisi, The visual-musical brain: a pilot study on the relationship among primary visual cortex, mental imagery and synesthetic experiences in "RICERCHE DI PSICOLOGIA " 3/2011, pp. 361-386, DOI:10.3280/RIP2011-003003