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What is Synesthesia?

15 Sep

What is Synesthesia?

Posted By: 
Kaitlin Guay

How do you see numbers? Is a 2 just a candy cane falling toward a desk to you, or is it a color? Do you certain words evoke certain shades of the rainbow? Does music have shape? There are a number of people who experience the world this way. Their brains link certain experiences with another one of their senses in a very unique way. This is called Synesthesia.

Synesthesia is described as: “The linking of unusual experiences with a common stimulus.” Essentially, it’s a game of tag, where you see, hear, touch, or smell something, and the brain tags an alternate sense to project an association, such as color. This is known as Grapheme Color Synesthesia, or “The visual perception of numbers and letters as colors.”

A person with Synesthesia can experience this condition in two ways: either as an Associator, which is “someone who experiences sights within their minds eye,” or as a Projector: “A person who experiences their synesthesia visually in the outside world.”

So how does this affect those who have it? Many harness their Synesthesia as a useful tool to enhance their creativity. It’s often that those who have it go undiagnosed for years, as they don’t know that others don’t experience the world as they do. Many famous musicians like Duke Ellington and Billy Joel had this condition. However, Synesthesia can also be frightening for those who haven’t received a diagnosis.

One man describes being around loud music or even walking by a construction site as something he has to avoid, because it pirates his vision with a blanket of color. “Live music is just too loud for me. I’ve found in, ah, sort of enclosed venue situations, uh, the sound can be so loud that it will trigger a visual experience and then I can’t see where I’m going.”

If this rings a multi-colored bell for you, your brain may be privy to this unique process. Learn more about this unique condition through this video by @MediaArtProduction.

What about you? Has Synesthesia affected your life?