What is Synesthesia? According to the Free Online Dictionary, it is, “A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color.” Synesthesia is basically a condition where sensory systems seem to be linked.
If you look at the word roots, it literally means joined perception. The most common form of synesthesia is colored letters or numbers. Someone with synesthesia might think the letter y is orange, for example. However, synesthesia can involve any of the senses, and occasionally even three senses. People could see something when they hear sound, or taste something when they are touched, or hear something when they taste.
The combinations are fairly limitless. Diagnosis/Conditions of Synesthesia For someone to have synesthesia, they must fit a number of requirements that were developed by Richard Cytowic MD, a leading synesthesia researcher. The things you see, hear, taste, smell, or feel when you experience a different sense must be: ? Involuntary ? Projected ? Durable and Generic ? Memorable ? Emotional Someone who has synesthesia experiences things involuntarily. If you consciously decide that you will make m look green, then you do not actually have synesthesia. In addition, what you experience must be projected.
Colors, shapes, words. All these are projected for people with synesthesia, almost like a hallucination. It is not enough to simply picture something in one’s mind’s eye. Also, your experiences must always be the same. A synethete (someone with synesthesia) would always taste chocolate when they heard a running river.
Their sensations would probably be memorable, and sometimes emotional. If what you experience fits these requirements, then you might be a synethete. How Does Synesthesia Work? Unfortunately, there is currently very little research on what causes synesthesia and what actually goes on in the brain of a synethete. One theory states that the neurons of people with synesthesia cross between sensory systems. Scientists believe that in a normal person the neurons only move within one sensory system, but for synethetes they cross.
For example, the neurons in the smelling area of the brain would cross to the hearing part of the brain, making the systems seem linked. Another theory states that all babies are born with synesthesia, but only a few people keep it their whole lives. Synesthesia Stats Here are some quick and easy statistics about synesthesia: ? More women have it ? More left handed people have it ? Most synethetes have average or above average intelligence ? The condition may be genetic ? Colored numbers and letters is the most common form of synesthesia ? Most everyone with synesthesia disagrees about his or her sensations. For example, one person’s 7 may be lavender, while another person’s 7 might be gray. Do You Have Synesthesia? Synesthesia is actually far more common than people think. I wanted to write this article because synesthesia is not widely known, but I find is very intriguing.
Also, there are lots of synethetes who have no idea what they’re experiencing. Having synesthesia can make some people feel very alone. Now for the test! If any of the experiences I have described resonate with you, then you might be a synethete. Here are some quick quizzes designed by synesthesia experts to help you figure out whether or not you are a synethete. Quiz Number One: Do numbers or letters cause you to have a color experience? Example: Does the letter J “mean” yellow to you? Or does “5” make you perceive purple? ? Yes, I have had similar experiences ? No, I have not had such experiences Do weekdays and months have specific colors? Example: Does July always mean Navy Blue to you? Is Wednesday always orange? ? Yes, I have similar associations ? No, I do not have such associations Do you imagine or visualize weekdays, months and/or years as having a particular location in space around you? Example: Is September always located two feet in front of you to the left? ? Yes, I have always felt these specific spatial locations ? No, I have never had this kind of association Does hearing a sound make you perceive a color? Example: Does a shrill car horn cause you to see the color green? Does C sharp make you see pink? ? Yes, I do have such experiences ? No, I have not had such experiences Do certain words trigger a taste in your mouth? Example: Does the name ‘Derek’ taste like earwax? ? Yes, this is familiar to me ? No, I have never felt like this Do you feel a sense of touch when you smell things? Example: Does the smell of coffee make you feel as though you are touching a cold glass surface? ? Yes, I have had such experiences ? No, this doesn’t happen with me We have described a few types of synesthesia.
Many other unusual blendings of the senses have been reported. Do you suspect that you experience an unusual blending that other people do not have (other than the ones listed above)? These could include automatically hearing a sound when you see movement, or the sense of a shape being triggered by a taste, or experiencing a color when feeling pain. ? Yes, I believe I may have other forms of unusual sensory experiences ? Not that I know of If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you are probably a synethete! Some synethetes have multiple types of synesthesia, so it would be normal if you answered yes to two or three of these questions. If you think you have synesthesia, then you may want to visit the synesthesia battery, the online site where this quiz came from (the url is synethete.org). This site can provide you with more information and confirm your suspicions.
In addition, it is a good place to connect with other synethetes if you wish to. If you are still unsure, here is an experiment from faculty.washington.edu 1. Read a list of random numbers between 0 and 9 at a rate of about one every 3 seconds. For example: 7, 9, 4, 0, 3, 8, 2, 5, 1, 6.
2. After each number is read, ask people to write down the number and what COLOR that they associate with each number. 3. Collect the answers. These will be called “Answers #1”.
4. Two to three weeks later, repeat the experiment, but change the order of the numbers. For example: 3, 6, 5, 9, 4, 1, 7, 0, 5, 2, 8. 5. Collect the answers.
These will be called “Answers #2”. 6. Compare Answers #1 with Answers #2. A person with synesthesia will have all or most of the same number-color pairs on both Answers #1 and Answers #2. This experiment can also be done using letters instead of numbers. Resources for Synethetes If you now believe that you are a synethete, then I highly suggest doing more research on your condition.
The synesthesia battery is a great place to learn more and connect. There are more quizzes you can take online, and you may be able to find other places to connect. Good luck, and thank you for reading. Works Sited falculty.washington.edu synethete.org