Associating colors with vowels

For the writer Vladimir Nabokov, “aa” was the colour of polished ebony and “ee” was yellow. Nabokov had synaesthesia: his sensory perceptions mingled with one another. In his case, he saw colours when hearing certain vowels, but many forms of synaesthesia are possible. Only 1 in 25 people have synaesthesia, but this new research shows that certain intuitions about “sound colours” shared by many more people than this.

In this study, over 1,000 people took part in an online test where they chose colours for 16 spoken vowels. A large majority felt that “aa” was more red than green, and “ee” more light than dark, whether they had synaesthesia or not. According to Mark Dingemanse, one of the researchers, “There seems to be a logic to how we link sound and colour, and the structure of language has an important role in this process.”

Credit: Cuskley

In the above image the vowel-color associations in two non-synesthete subjects (left) and in two synesthetes (right) can be seen. Synesthetes more precisely chose the same color for a particular sound. However, all four participants created groups of sounds that lay close to a particular Dutch vowel, such as “ee” [i:] (upper left), and they all chose lighter colors for “ee” than for “aa” or “oo.” General principles for vowel-color associations exist, whether one has synesthesia or not.

Source (Radboud University Nijmegen. “Associating colors with vowels? Almost all of us do!.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2019.)

Original paper: Cuskley, C., Dingemanse, M., Kirby, S. and Van Leeuwen, T.M., 2019. Cross-modal associations and synesthesia: Categorical perception and structure in vowel–color mappings in a large online sample. Behavior research methods51(4), pp.1651-1675.

How the brain suppresses the act of revenge

Feeling angry can lead to a desire for revenge. Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, study how the process happens at a cerebral level. They have developed an economic game in which the player is confronted with both fair and unfair actions of others.


Through brain imaging, they observed the areas of brain that were the most active when the participant experienced unfrainess and anger. Next, they offered the participant the option to take revenge, thus identifying the areas of brain related to the act of revenge. This happens in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). When this area is more active, the participant is less inclined to take revenge.

The provocation phase played a crucial role in localizing the feeling of anger in the brain. Activity was observed in the superior temporal lobe and the amygdala, known mainly for the emotions of fear and the processing the relevance of feelings. The researchers have observed that there is a direct correlation between brain activity in DLPFC when thinking about the act of vengeance, area also known for emotional regulation, and behavioral choices.

Read more here (Université de Genève. “How the brain suppresses the act of revenge: Researchers find which brain zones are activated in anger.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2018.)

Original paper: Klimecki, O.M., Sander, D. and Vuilleumier, P., 2018. Distinct brain areas involved in anger versus punishment during social interactions. Scientific reports8(1), pp.1-12.

Valve’s Index VR Headset Will Support Linux

GamingOnLinux reported Saturday that the company’s upcoming Index virtual reality headset, which hasn’t yet been officially announced, will support Linux.

Developers have a hard enough time making sure their games run well on PCs running Windows simply because of the sheer number of possible hardware and software configurations. Linux adds even more complexity to the mix by often relying on various distros, unofficial drivers, and other fiddly setups that are probably as unique to each user as their fingerprint.


Those complications have led many game devs to neglect the platform. That’s where Valve stepped in: the company announced in August 2018 that it would make Windows-only games playable on Linux via a new version of Steam Play. More than 2,600 titles were supported within two months, according to ProtonDB, which said that 4,360 games work just eight months after the launch.

Source (Nathaniel Mott, “Valve’s Index VR Headset Will Support Linux”, Tom’s Hardware, 07.04.2019)