Cross-modal correspondences in sine wave: Speech versus non-speech modes

  • Daniel Márcio Rodrigues Silva
  • Samuel C. Bellini-LeiteEmail author


The present study aimed to investigate whether or not the so-called “bouba-kiki” effect is mediated by speech-specific representations. Sine-wave versions of naturally produced pseudowords were used as auditory stimuli in an implicit association task (IAT) and an explicit cross-modal matching (CMM) task to examine cross-modal shape-sound correspondences. A group of participants trained to hear the sine-wave stimuli as speech was compared to a group that heard them as non-speech sounds. Sound-shape correspondence effects were observed in both groups and tasks, indicating that speech-specific processing is not fundamental to the “bouba-kiki” phenomenon. Effects were similar across groups in the IAT, while in the CMM task the speech-mode group showed a stronger effect compared with the non-speech group. This indicates that, while both tasks reflect auditory-visual associations, only the CMM task is additionally sensitive to associations involving speech-specific representations.


Cross-modal correspondences Sound symbolism Bouba-kiki effect Sine-wave speech 



Both authors were supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) - Brazil. The authors also gratefully acknowledge Professors Barry C. Smith, Sarah Garfinkel, Vincent Hayward, and André J. Abath, as well as anonymous reviewers for thoughtful comments and suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Open practices statement

The data used in this research were made available to reviewers and to journal editors.


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)Belo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.State University of Minas Gerais (UEMG) and Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)Belo HorizonteBrazil

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