Behavioral and ERP data for statistical analysis from How non-veridical perception drives actions in healthy humans: evidence from synaesthesia

We continually perform actions that are driven by our perception and it is a commonly held view that only objectively perceived changes within the ‘real’ world affect behaviour. Exceptions are generally only made for mental health disorders associated with delusions and hallucinations where behaviour may be triggered by the experience of objectively non-existent percepts. Here, we demonstrate, using synaesthesia as a model condition (in N = 19 grapheme–colour synaesthetes), how objectively non-existent (i.e. non-veridical) but still non-pathological perceptions affect actions in healthy humans. Using electroencephalography, we determine whether early-stage perceptual processes (reflected by P1 and N1 event-related potential (ERP) components), or late stage-integration processes (reflected by N2 component), underlie the effects of non-veridical perceptions on action control. ERP analysis suggests that even though the examined peculiarities and experimental variations are perceptual in nature, it is not early-stage perceptual processes, but rather higher-order executive control processes linking perceptions to the appropriate motor response underlying this effect. Source localization analysis implicates activation within medial frontal cortices in the effect of how irrelevant non-veridical perceptions modulate behaviour. Our results challenge common conceptions about the determinants of human behaviour but can be explained by well-established theoretical frameworks detailing the link between perception and action.This article is part of the discussion meeting issue ‘Bridging senses: new developments in synaesthesia’.