Synesthesia: Seeing Music, Tasting Words
Have you ever heard a sound and immediately thought of a colour? Or seen a number and thought it had a particular flavour? If so, you may be experiencing Synesthesia, a condition in which one sense triggers another. Synesthesia is a fascinating but frequently misunderstood condition that affects approximately one in every 2,000 people.
In this post, we will define Synesthesia, explain how it works, and discuss some of the most common types of Synesthesia.
What exactly is Synesthesia?
Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway results in an involuntary experience in another. In other words, when someone with Synesthesia is exposed to a stimulus (such as seeing
a number or hearing a sound), it causes a secondary perception (such as seeing a color or tasting a flavour) that is not generally associated with that stimulus.
While there are many types of Synesthesia, the most common is grapheme-colour Synesthesia, where letters and number
s are perceived as having distinct colours. For example, someone with this type of Synesthesia may see the number "3" as always being green, while the letter "A" is always red. On the other hand, sound-colour Synesthesia is where sounds are associated with colours, and taste-touch Synesthesia, where certain tastes are associated with specific tactile sensations, are two other types of Synesthesia.
How Does Synesthesia Work?
The precise cause of Synesthesia is unknown, but it is thought to be related to how different areas of the brain communicate with one another. In a typical brain, different sensory pathways are processed in different brain regions, with little cross-talk between them. However, there appears to be more communication between these areas in people with Synesthesia, resulting in the blending of sensory experiences.
According to research, Synesthesia runs in families, implying that the condition may have a genetic component. Some research also suggests that people with Synesthesia may have differences in how their brains are wired, which means that there is increased connectivity between different brain regions.
Different kinds of Synesthesia
As previously stated, there are numerous types of Synesthesia. Among the most common types are:
Grapheme-color Synesthesia - as mentioned earlier, this is the most common form of Synesthesia, where letters and numbers are associated with specific colours.
Sound-color Synesthesia - sounds are associated with colours. For example, the sound of a trumpet might be perceived as yellow.
Chromesthesia - music or sounds are associated with colours. For example, a particular song might be associated with a specific colour.
Lexical-gustatory Synesthesia - certain words or sounds are associated with specific tastes. For example, the word "hello" might be associated with the taste of bananas.
Spatial-sequence synesthesia - numbers, days of the week, or months of the year are perceived as having a specific spatial arrangement. For example, the number "4" might always be seen as being above the number "5."
Synesthesia is an enthralling condition that allows for sensory experiences that most people do not have. While the causes of Synesthesia are unknown, research has shed some light on how the brain processes sensory information and how differences in brain connectivity may lead to Synesthesia. While Synesthesia can be a source of creativity and inspiration for some, it can also be confusing or overwhelming for others. Regardless, understanding this condition can provide insight into the incredible complexity of the human brain.