Body and mind, synesthesia and metaphor

THE SYNESTHESIA NETWORK | SYNESTHESIA

Syn•es•the•sia : NOUN

Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which the stimulation of one sense triggers an instantaneous and involuntary experience in another. In other words, it causes two or more senses to cross.

People with Synesthesia may be able to “hear” color, or “taste” sound. There are many different kinds of Synesthesia, and people who have it sometimes have more than one type. But because the experience of the five senses is so internal, many people who have Synesthesia don’t realize until later on in life that their sensory experience is significantly different from what others experience. People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes.


Reference

The Synesthesia Network | Synesthesia


AUDREY CARLSEN (TED) | SOME PEOPLE REALLY CAN TASTE THE RAINBOW

Summarizing the state of current research, Day says the brains of synesthetes do appear to be anatomically different (although he cautions that scientists have only studied a few types of synesthesia so far). In particular, it seems that the neural connections between different sensory parts of the brain are more myelinated in people with synesthesia. Myelin is a fatty sheath that surrounds neurons and enables neural signals to travel more quickly.

“Because the myelination is different, the interaction between certain parts of the brain is different,” explains Day. This allows parts of the brain that are responsible for different senses to communicate when they normally wouldn’t.

synesthesia-npr

Reference

Audrey Carlsen (NPR) | Some people really can taste the rainbow


BILJANA LABOVIC • CELESTE LAI • LISA LABRACIO • RICHARD E. CYTOWIC (TED-ED) | WHAT COLOR IS TUESDAY? EXPLORING SYNESTHESIA

The amazing thing is that a single nucleotide change in the sequence of one’s DNA alters perception. In this way, synesthesia provides a path to understanding subjective differences, how two people can see the same thing differently. But suppose in someone else that the gene acted in non-sensory areas. You would then have the ability to link seemingly unrelated things, which is the definition of metaphor, seeing the similar in the dissimilar.

But why do the rest of us non-synesthetes understand metaphors like “sharp cheese” or “sweet person”? It so happens that sight, sound, and movement already map to one another so closely, that… inwardly, we’re all synesthetes, outwardly unaware of the perceptual couplings happening all the time. Cross-talk in the brain is the rule, not the exception.



Reference

Biljana Labovic • Celeste Lai • Lisa LaBracio • Richard E. Cytowic (TED-Ed) | What color is Tuesday? Exploring synesthesia


DANIEL TAMMET (TED) | DIFFERENT WAYS OF KNOWING

In my theory, language evolves in such a way that sounds match, correspond with, the subjective, with the personal, intuitive experience of the listener….[W]ords can have colors and emotions, numbers, shapes and personalities….Words, like numbers, express fundamental relationships between objects and events and forces that constitute our world. It stands to reason that we, existing in this world, should in the course of our lives absorb intuitively those relationships.



Reference

Daniel Tammet (TED) | Different ways of knowing


Related

Encyclopedia Britannica | Synethesia

Sean Day | Synesthesia

Wikipedia | Synesthesia

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