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Synesthesia - Interweaving the Senses


Synesthesia is a rare neurological condition in which two or more senses intertwine. For people with this condition, ordinary black digits on a white background may elicit highly specific color experiences, or specific tastes may elicit unusual tactile sensations. Some people not only see colors, but they can also feel, taste, hear, or smell them. One person out of about 1000 has synesthesia of some sort. Behavioral neuroscientists are discovering the neurological basis of synesthesia using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).[1]

The prevalent theories about the causes of synesthesia share the basic idea that neural connections within the brain link areas of the brain that are normally not interconnected. The theories differ on whether these interconnections arise before birth or during brain development after birth.

There are different types of synesthesia. Among the people who associate letters and numbers with color, there are "projector" synesthetes where the color can fill the printed letter or it can appear directly in front of their eyes as if projected on a screen, whereas "associate" synesthetes see the colors in their mind rather than outside their bodies. For "Perceptual" synesthetes the phenomenon is triggered by sensory stimuli like sights and sounds, while "conceptual" synesthetes respond to abstract concepts like time.

The terms "musical color" or "musical coloration" which combine visual and auditory terminology may seem perplexing to many people, but for people with synesthesia these terms may represent reality. Some interesting books have been written about synesthesia, including "The Man Who Tasted Shapes-".
Learn about the Human Sense Organs

[1] Daniel Smilek & Mike J. Dixon,
Towards a Synergistic Understanding of Synaesthesia
Combining Current Experimental Findings With Synaesthetes' Subjective Descriptions

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