Why some individuals hear colours and style phrases

A observe is usually a sensation and a quantity is usually a hue. (Tomi Um/)

For a small group of individuals, sensations entangle themselves in baffling methods. The written numeral 2 may evoke a flash of purple; an audible C sharp observe may conjure a finger prick. Some with this situation, referred to as synesthesia, even style spoken phrases: The identify Sam, for instance, may elicit a candy taste.

How precisely some individuals “really feel” smells or “style” names continues to be typically unclear. There’s no gold customary check to diagnose the situation, which solely provides to the thriller. College of Michigan cognitive psychologist David Brang says he will get emails on a regular basis from of us asking if their peculiar sensations are the results of such swapping. “It’s a mixing of the senses,” he says, making the dysfunction “very tough to reverse engineer.”

The present concept posits that synesthetes’ brains have additional connections. While you see a phrase, your retina and optic nerve ship that info to the visible cortex, which creates the picture you see. Then your noggin’s face- and color-recognition unit, the fusiform gyrus, places it into context. Further connections there may concurrently ship indicators to, say, each the color- and word-focused areas. These additional pathways can pigment phrases, weaponize musical notes, and even wreck a primary date with a moderately putrid-tasting identify.

This story seems within the Fall 2020, Mysteries situation of Common Science.

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