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Everything You Need To Know About Synesthesia: A Neurological Condition That Causes The Stimulation Of One Sense To Produce An Unrelated Secondary Sensation, Like Seeing Colors While Listening To Music

Photo 157365809 © Casanowe - Dreamstime.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Your five senses are used on a daily basis. You might hear the sound of a truck backing up or taste a crisp, juicy apple. But what if hearing that truck causes you to see the color blue? Or does biting into that apple feel pointy? Do you often hear colors and taste sounds in this way? If so, you might have synesthesia.

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which the stimulation of one sensory pathway produces sensation in an unrelated secondary sensory pathway. There are many different forms and types of this. Synesthetes, people who have this ability, may associate sounds with colors. For example, hearing music might lead to seeing patterns of colors.

The association of numbers, letters, words, and symbols with colors is the most common, but there seem to be countless variations.

The condition is not well-known. According to the American Psychological Association, only about one in 2,000 people have synesthesia, making it rare. Women are more likely to become synesthetes than men.

Synesthesia isn’t a disorder or an illness, but it is a very real condition. For a while, synesthetes were thought of as having overactive imaginations, but research has proven this is not the case.

Modern brain-imaging technology has uncovered the differences between a synesthete’s brain and a “normal” brain, showing that some synesthetes had larger amounts of activity in the visual parts of their brains than non-synesthetes when given auditory stimuli.

Scientists have also found that synesthetes possess higher levels of white matter. White matter is responsible for communication between various parts of the brain.

Synesthesia is different from hallucinations because the sensations remain consistent over time. If you see the letter “G” in yellow today, you’ll see it in yellow five years later. The phenomenon often starts in childhood and develops as kids grow. By the time they reach adulthood, the color and letter associations become less random and more fixed.

Synesthetes are known for having exceptionally good memory when it comes to recalling strings of numbers. They are also artistic, engaging in hobbies such as writing, painting, and music. Some have reported experiencing sensory overload from all the stimulation, but most do not view the condition as a problem. In fact, it is usually considered a bonus sense and a unique skill.

Photo 157365809 © Casanowe – Dreamstime.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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