Chris Graulty


September 1, 2015

Hometown: Kobe, Japan; Cincinnati, Ohio; Beijing, China

Adviser: Prof. Enriqueta Canseco-Gonzalez [psychology 1992–]

Thesis: Neuronal Dynamics of Grapheme-Color Synesthesia

What it’s about: People with grapheme-color synesthesia perceive color when looking at numbers and letters. I reviewed the previous studies that investigate the neural mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. I then performed my own experiment to record the brain activity of 10 people with this kind of synesthesia. I isolated two neural correlates of synesthetic perception and explored how they are influenced by the availability of attentional resources.

What it’s really about: Data from brain recording suggests that attention is necessary for synesthetic perception.

Who I was when I got to Reed: I was born in Cincinnati, went to elementary school in Japan, middle school back in Ohio, and high school in Beijing. I don’t really have a hometown where I feel, “This is where I’m from.” I’m multiracial and because of my ethnicity, there is no country where I look like the people who live there.

Influential professors: Prof. Enriqueta Canseco-Gonzalez and Prof. Michael Pitts have been my mentors. I’ve written grants with them, gone to conferences with them, and hopefully will be publishing with them soon. They taught me how to do good science and for that, I am forever grateful. 

A concept that blew my mind: Your brain knows things that you don’t.

Another concept that blew my mind: If you don’t use it, you lose it. Your brain is constantly adapting to the inputs you give it, so a function that’s never used is just taking up space. If you don’t speak a language for long enough, you’ll lose it. If you close your eyes long enough, you’ll go blind. Give your brain amazing experiences, because it builds a network around them.

Outside the Classroom: Assistant stage manager for a show. Worked in the scene shop building sets. Spun fire in Weapons of Mass Distraction. Was an international student mentor. House adviser in Naito.

Awards/honors: I received generous support from the Murdock grant for life sciences, the Reed College Science Research Fellowship, the Reed College Opportunity Grant, and the Reed College Initiative Grant.

Word to prospies: Be willing to listen. Some people are eager to question everything, but then don’t listen to the responses.

What’s next: I'll be working in the psych department as a lab manager while I send out applications for medical school.