Why some people hear color, taste sounds

Source: ucsdnews.ucsd.edu

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of the undersides
of a synesthete's and a control subject's brains, while viewing a black-
and-white letter or number. The color-selective hVR region of the cortex
is shown in pink. Brain "activation" is shown in shades of red, orange
and yellow, with brighter colors meaning more activity. The brain of
the synesthete shows activity in the color-selective region, while the
brain of the non-synesthete does not. 
It's called synesthesia, and it effects one out of every 100 people.

A synesthete is a person with the ability to hear colors or to see a sound.  No, they're not deaf with highly developed other senses.  These are folks much like you and me, only where you and I might see a color, red, they also hear and / or taste the color red as they see it.

Fascinating, to quote Spock.

To paraphrase another well-known sci-fi guru, "Imagine, if you will, a detective who sees odors, hears colors and tastes sounds." 

Well, I'll let someone take it from here.
*  *  *  *  *

"One person reported that smells have certain shapes. For example the smell of fresh air is rectangular, coffee is a bubbly cloud shape and people could smell round or square."

Why some people hear color, taste sounds

Researchers at The Australian National University School of Psychology led by Dr Stephanie Goodhew have shed new light on synesthesia -- the effect of hearing colors, seeing sounds and other cross-sensory phenomena.

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Dr Goodhew said synesthetes have stronger connections between different brain areas, particularly between what we think of as the language part of the brain and the color part of the brain. Those connections lead to a triggering effect, where a stimulus in one part of the brain would cause activity in another.

"Things like hearing shapes, so a triangle will trigger an experience of a sound or a color, or they might have a specific taste sensation when they hear a particular sound," she said.

The research centered on measuring the extent that people with Synesthesia draw meaning between words.

"Going in we were actually predicting that synesthetes might have a more concrete style of thinking that does not emphasize conceptual-level relations between stimuli, given that they have very rigid parings between sensory experiences.

"We found exactly the opposite," Dr Goodhew said.

Related stories:
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Story Source: Materials provided by The Australian National University. Stephanie C. Goodhew, Melissa R. Freire, Mark Edwards. Enhanced semantic priming in synesthetes independent of sensory binding. Consciousness and Cognition, 2015.


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