Synesthesia

I friend of mine posted this and I thought it might be an interested read for some:


Synesthesia is a condition in which the real information of one sense is accompanied by a perception in another sense. A person may see colors when hearing a sound or may experience a smell when seeing a certain color. Such a person is called a synesthete. There is much to be learned about this phenomenon.

Questions you may have include:

What type of things do people experience or sense?
Are such people crazy?
How is this explained?
This lesson will answer those questions. There is a mini-quiz near the end of the lesson.


Types of linked senses

The five major senses are sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. There may also be a 6th sense or psychic sense.

Experiencing colors

The most common form of synesthesia is the experience of colors linked to letters and numbers that they see, the sound of words or music, or smells and tastes.

Synesthetes that experience different colors when they see certain letters and numbers, experience the written language as a rush of color associations. Others may enjoy music or eating food as a colorful experience.

It is uncertain whether a person who experiences colors when seeing letters, hearing sounds, or smelling or tasting food will also experience the opposite effect when seeing various colors. This is an area for research.

Other experiences

There are some people who experience tastes or smells when seeing certain colors. It is uncertain if those people experience appropriate colors when smelling or tasting certain items.

Some people experience tastes when they hear certain words or sounds. It is not recorded if anyone hears sounds when tasting certain foods.

Evidence on other combination of senses is rare.

6th sense

Synesthetes sometimes report frequent experiences of déjà vu , clairvoyance, or precognitive dreams. It is not certain if these experiences are linked to another sense or triggered by another sense.

Synesthetes

It is estimated that between 1 in 2000 people are synesthetes. Another estimate is 1 in 25,000. Many synesthetes are individuals of high intelligence. They often have excellent memories. There are more women synesthetes than men. A high proportion are left handed or ambidextrous. Some have trouble telling left from right and have a poor sense of direction. Others experience minor difficulties with mathematics.

Not crazy

Many people have thought they were hallucinating when they experienced synesthesia and have kept the experiences to themselves. But also, a number of brilliant people have also experienced synesthesia and let others know about it. There are now associations for synesthetes.

Brilliant people

Many brilliant people have been synesthetes, including:

Novelist Vladimir Nabokov saw different colors for each letter in the alphabet. His mother was also a synesthete.
Composer Franz Liszt saw colors when hearing musical notes.
Physicist Richard Feyman saw colors in his physics equations.
Abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky saw the colors for his paintings when hearing music.
Many who experience synesthesia assume that everyone else does too.

Caused in processing

Hearing words or music and seeing colors dance around is linking hearing with vision, but seeing letters of the alphabet as different colors is combining two areas of processing the information from one sense. This may indicate that synesthesia concerns how information is processed in the brain.

Synesthetes seems to have a different neural wiring than normal. Perhaps areas in the brain that process information are somehow overlapping in these people. It is also possible that more people than realize it has this capability. There are many expressions that mix sense and may indicate actual experiences. some examples are purple prose, sharp cheese, and bitter cold.

The reality and vividness that people experience are what make synesthesia so interesting in its violation of conventional perception.

Summary

Synesthesia is a linking of senses that seems to happen in a small percentage of the population. It is most often the experiencing of colors in association with other senses. It seems to be caused in the processing of information in the brain. There is much study needed to understand this phenomenon.

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Replies

  • A sufficient dose of LSD taken recreationally may allow one to experience this, albeit temporarily. Tasting colors or seeing music...
  • Here's a list of famous synesthesiacs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_synesthesia

    Several musicians in there including Tori Amos, Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington. I am a bit skeptical about this list, I imagine some folks might claim to experience synethesia just to make themselves appear mysterious, I mean, have all of these cases been confirmed? And how would you confirm it anyways, besides taking people at their word? Maybe there is one of those tests that shows different areas of the brain lighting up or something, but I doubt any of the people on this list are "confirmed" cases.

    I think mainly I'm just jealous though ;)
  • Tombo: if you think about it... at FIRST you wouldn't even realize it wasn't normal... remember, the person grew up like that. They would not KNOW... They would just think it was perfectly normal...
  • I'm thinking about it...I've thought about it...I agree! What's the next step?

    Anybody here have or know somebody who has synesthesia?



    Sean E Duvall said:
    Tombo: if you think about it... at FIRST you wouldn't even realize it wasn't normal... remember, the person grew up like that. They would not KNOW... They would just think it was perfectly normal...
    Synesthesia
    I friend of mine posted this and I thought it might be an interested read for some: Synesthesia is a condition in which the real information of one s…
  • Well... the only "experience" I ever had with it, was obvious, *in college*, LMAO

    the first time I experienced it, it was scary... but, you know... tripping and all, LMAO

    never knew anyone personally, no... I only knew the term because once or twice it was used as a plot device in a book. one was an art critic that could detect forgeries without even trying... if they didnt hear the "music" they associated with the piece/artist... it was a clear fake, lol

    it was wild, the lady character could "hear" brush strokes and such...

    While we're on the subject... Guiness book of world records used to have a sextion on human touch records... there were verified cases of people who could, and verigfiably, mind you... tell colors by touch. Now THAT is weird, eh?

    blindfolded, they coud unerringly go thru a dec of cards, and separate the black and red cards...
    the human mind is/can be a fascinating thing to me...

    THANKS for sharing this, May II... it was neat!!
  • I think what you describe here is only a top of the iceberg. All human reasoning and emotions are based on associations between various senses and reflections. E.g., when we study the alphabet or music, we can associate letter T to a hammer and eventually to a smell of metal; musical notes -- with pancakes and donuts and eventually to tastes; the staff of notes -- to electrical wires & birds and eventually to chirps, colors etc -- depending on our previous observations and reflections. There exist mnemonic techniques based on this. There exists also a research, where musical phrases are associated to natural language phrases and to techno sounds -- techno-music is a special case of the latest.
  • Heres a video you might like that is just about this topic
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM4WvF_PikI

    and another one
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_tdoa31f7o&feature=related

    it seems people with Synesthesia like Messiaen
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