Synaesthesia Is Blue

September 26, 2010 |  by

Ever had a friend whose name tasted like chocolate? Ever heard a word as color? Or seen the shape of sounds? All these are what science calls synaesthesia – sense mix-ups. It’s not uncommon, as Rita Carter writes in Mapping the Mind:

Practically every combination has been reported. One boy found words had distinct “postures” that he was able to demonstrate by contorting his body into various poses. There are even people who are assaulted by intense emotion when faced with a particular sensation: depression at the touch of denim, embarrassment at the feel of wax.

It’s not just a mistake of the brain. Apparently as babies, we experience everything this way. Only as adults does the mind begin to separate, categorize and quantify every sensation. It leads me to an interesting idea: what if an object is really just an essence – and the senses we perceive are its many expressions. Example: the touch, taste and sound of an apple are all just qualities of “apple.” Hopefully, science will discover.

In the meantime, play with it. Hear what you can see!

update: Wassily Kandinsky, painter of Yellow Red Blue (above), was rumored to be a synaesthete.

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