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Codage cortical de la synesthésie graphème-couleur

Abstract : Synesthesia is a fascinating phenomenon that offers the opportunity to study the neural bases of subjective experiences in healthy subjects. Grapheme-color synesthetes (1 to 5 % of the population – who do not know it most of the time) arbitrarily and systematically associate a specific color to letters or digits. This PhD thesis work focuses on this type of synesthesia and explores whether common neural networks are involved both in ‘real' color perception and synesthetic color experience. In a previous study from the host team using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), no implication of ‘color areas' where found (Hupé et al., 2012). A standard (univariate) statistical analysis of the data processing was used.This PhD thesis aims at determining if synesthetic colors involve real color neural networks with the use of a multivariate statistical technique (Multivoxel Pattern Analysis – MVPA). Unlike univariate analysis it uses sets of voxels (the pixels in 3D forming the images) and take into account their patterns of activation linked to the encoding of specific information in the brain. This encoding is performed at the neuronal level and fMRI indirectly and non-invasively quantifies it through hemodynamic variations induced by the neuronal activity. MVPA is a particularly adapted approach to measure fine grained and distributed information encoding. The goal of the thesis is to explore its efficiency for the study of grapheme-color synesthesia for which standard analyses failed. In practice, it requires the use of specific protocols, mastering numerous parameters influencing the results and the joint use of univariate analysis. In the first step of this thesis, we evaluated different methodological aspects to optimize the processing chain in order to obtain robust and reliable results.Then, we compared the neural processing of real colors and synesthetic colors in 2 groups of synesthetes (n=20) and non synesthetes (n=20). We found that synesthetic colors processing does not share common neural networks with real color processing. This suggests that the neural bases of synesthetic colors are not localized in the retinotopic visual areas or in the visual expertise areas (the ‘ventral pathway' areas). This may also suggest that, although those areas are involved, different neural networks are implicated in real color and synesthetic color perception. These results raise the question of the limits of the interpretation of the signal measured by fMRI, indirectly linked to the neuronal activity. The identification of the neural networks involved in the subjective experience of synesthetic colors remains an open issue.
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Submitted on : Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 12:35:37 PM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01091142, version 2


Mathieu Ruiz. Codage cortical de la synesthésie graphème-couleur. Médecine humaine et pathologie. Université de Grenoble, 2014. Français. ⟨NNT : 2014GRENS020⟩. ⟨tel-01091142v2⟩



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