Music-Colour Synaesthesia: 

A conceptual correspondence grounded in action

Caroline Curwen

Dr Caroline Curwen

Caroline Curwen is a University Teacher in Psychology of Music. She has published on synaesthesia associated with music, including the role of embodied and enactive music cognition, and sensorimotor theory. Recent roles include Postdoctoral Research Associate in an Arts and Humanities Research Council Grant funded project “Investigating the Impact of Covid-19 on Arts and Culture in South Yorkshire”. She is a consulting editor for Musicae Scientiae. Caroline is also a qualified Chartered Accountant. 

Caroline's Projects 

Caroline’s research explores a form of synaesthesia also known as chromesthesia, or coloured hearing, that arises on hearing music. The focus of her interest is the examination of how the shapes and colours experienced by some when listening to music may be more conceptual in nature (rather than purely perceptual as has been more commonly examined) by forming a semantic mechanism for representing abstract concepts, and that they may be grounded in action similar to embodied music cognition.

Synaesthesia also presents challenges to established philosophical theories and highlights how our experiences of the world often differ somewhat from one individual to another. The cross disciplinary element of synaesthesia research offers the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the processes of general consciousness and cognition from person to person.

Caroline's Publications 

Curwen, C., Timmers, R. & Schiavio, A.  (2023). Action, emotion, and music-colour synaesthesia: An examination of sensorimotor and emotional responses in synaesthetes and non-synaesthetes. Psychological Research. Advance online publication.

Curwen, C. (2022). The role of synaesthesia in reading written musical key signatures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 151(10), 2284–2299.

Curwen, C. (2020). Music-colour synaesthesia: A sensorimotor account. Musicae Scientiae

Curwen, C. (2018). Music-colour synaesthesia: Concept, context and qualia. Consciousness and Cognition, 61, 94–106.

Recent events: 

Colourama at the Festival of the Mind, 20-27 Sept 2018 


Music-colour synaesthesia Podcast