synaesthesia

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    Nov 18, 2008 4:48 AM GMT
    Hey guys,

    I'm currently taking a course in cognitive psychology and one of the most interesting subjects we've touched on so far in the course is synaesthesia.

    Synaesthesia is basically sensory perception that is perceived by a separate sense.

    You might see music, taste sound, etc.

    For example, a common manifestation is seeing letters as always being a particular colour. In this case, it is true regardless of what colour the letter appears to be on paper. If someone with synaesthesia perceives the letter A to be bright red, then even if it is printed in black or blue ink, they will still see it as bright red.

    In the past, synaesthesia was believed to be quite rare, with relatively few documented cases. According to my prof, research now indicates it could be prevalent in different forms across 20% of the population.

    Does anyone here on RJ have any form of synaesthesia?

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    Nov 18, 2008 4:50 AM GMT


    Yep.
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    Nov 18, 2008 5:08 AM GMT
    there was a special on a fellow in England...Daniel Tammet....who can do huge calculations in his head. But he sees the numbers as shapes ....he describes it briefly in this youtube video, which is part one of the special broken up for uploading to youtube.... he describes it a 3:30 into this vid.

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    Nov 18, 2008 5:20 PM GMT
    There's a good book I've been reading that you might find interesting - Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks. It discusses musical synesthesia quite a bit.
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    Nov 18, 2008 5:22 PM GMT

    Hmmm, surely I can't be the only one on this site with this problem, or improvement, or whatever!


    C'mon guys, I'm feeling a little out of place and exposed!

    -Doug of meninlove
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    Nov 18, 2008 5:31 PM GMT
    I don't have it, but quasievil84's post is interesting because I have a friend who's getting her musicology phd, and she's always told me that she sees different colors with different sounds.
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    Nov 18, 2008 5:34 PM GMT
    Weight lifting tastes purple to me LOL
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    Nov 18, 2008 5:38 PM GMT
    No I don't and I honestly don't recall learning about this in Psychology! Mind you that was in the early 80s which is practically the jurassic period now.

    How does this differ from colour blindness? Are they related? I find it odd that someone could look at a letter and see it always in the same colour. Is that a function of the retina? Or is it a function of the brain? I assume the latter.

    I have always been able to do arithmetic quickly in my head, but I must admit I don't see them as shapes. I just have a good short-term memory for numbers.
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    Nov 18, 2008 5:42 PM GMT
    I can taste things when I see pictures of them or when I imagine them. Cherry pie is my favorite icon_lol.gif. If the food is sour or tart it makes me salivate.
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    Nov 18, 2008 5:48 PM GMT
    ActiveAndFit saidI can taste things when I see pictures of them or when I imagine them. Cherry pie is my favorite icon_lol.gif. If the food is sour or tart it makes me salivate.


    That's more of a pavlog's dog situation (I know I'm killing the spelling). Where you see something, taste it, and there's a connection between the two to where when you see the image again, you recall the taste. Synaesthesia is where you perceptions are mixed, like seeing numbers as shapes, or seeing words as you're hearing someone speak. There were two great videos on the Science Channel that hit this topic and found people that have this problem. The only person that had a bad experience with this was a guy that associated tastes with words he heard because some of the tastes included bile, burnt bacon etc.
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    Nov 18, 2008 6:02 PM GMT
    LyteFyre said
    ActiveAndFit saidI can taste things when I see pictures of them or when I imagine them. Cherry pie is my favorite icon_lol.gif. If the food is sour or tart it makes me salivate.
    That's more of a pavlog's dog situation (I know I'm killing the spelling). Where you see something, taste it, and there's a connection between the two to where when you see the image again, you recall the taste. Synaesthesia is where you perceptions are mixed, like seeing numbers as shapes, or seeing words as you're hearing someone speak. There were two great videos on the Science Channel that hit this topic and found people that have this problem. The only person that had a bad experience with this was a guy that associated tastes with words he heard because some of the tastes included bile, burnt bacon etc.
    I think this is different. I can actually taste the food when I think about it. BTW, I don't salivate when I think of all foods, just the ones that are tart or sour. As far as the guy that tastes with words, you can also say he hears the words and they are attached to a memory of the taste. Our brains always links various kinds of memories by different relations.
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    Nov 18, 2008 6:08 PM GMT
    ActiveAndFit said
    LyteFyre said
    ActiveAndFit saidI can taste things when I see pictures of them or when I imagine them. Cherry pie is my favorite icon_lol.gif. If the food is sour or tart it makes me salivate.


    That's more of a pavlog's dog situation (I know I'm killing the spelling). Where you see something, taste it, and there's a connection between the two to where when you see the image again, you recall the taste. Synaesthesia is where you perceptions are mixed, like seeing numbers as shapes, or seeing words as you're hearing someone speak. There were two great videos on the Science Channel that hit this topic and found people that have this problem. The only person that had a bad experience with this was a guy that associated tastes with words he heard because some of the tastes included bile, burnt bacon etc.
    I think this is different. I can actually taste the food when I think about it. BTW, I don't salivate when I think of all foods, just the ones that are tart or sour. As far as the guy that tastes with words, you can also say he hears the words and they are attached to a memory of the taste. Our brains always links various kinds of memories by different relations.


    Very true. It's still a relatively new subject I believe. The guy that could see words had to go through a barrage of tests at UCLA before they actually believed him. It's a neat subject either way!
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    Nov 18, 2008 7:40 PM GMT
    SurrealLife saidNo I don't and I honestly don't recall learning about this in Psychology! Mind you that was in the early 80s which is practically the jurassic period now.

    How does this differ from colour blindness? Are they related? I find it odd that someone could look at a letter and see it always in the same colour. Is that a function of the retina? Or is it a function of the brain? I assume the latter.

    I have always been able to do arithmetic quickly in my head, but I must admit I don't see them as shapes. I just have a good short-term memory for numbers.


    I'm not sure how it relates to colour blindness, but I don't think the actual eye has anything to do with it. The temporal lobe is involved; I know there have been documented case of people acquiring synaesthesia after suffering from seizures originating in the temporal lobe.
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    Nov 18, 2008 7:41 PM GMT
    quasievil84 saidThere's a good book I've been reading that you might find interesting - Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks. It discusses musical synesthesia quite a bit.


    Thanks! That actually sounds kind of interesting, I'll probably take a look at it.icon_biggrin.gif
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    Nov 18, 2008 7:43 PM GMT
    Satyricon331 saidI don't have it, but quasievil84's post is interesting because I have a friend who's getting her musicology phd, and she's always told me that she sees different colors with different sounds.


    I find this really interesting, actually, because I asked my prof after class one day if perfect pitch was a form of synaesthesia.
    I couldn't find anything very accurate on Google, and the one friend that I know who has perfect pitch doesn't see colours when she hears notes.

    That's very interesting though
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    Nov 18, 2008 7:55 PM GMT
    A doctor once told me about this condition, because I commented that I could "taste" when I got a shot. Then I began to notice I could "taste" when I had blood drawn as well.

    Its the oddest sensation. I can taste the metal of the needle. But its more like I can "sense" it....if that makes sense.

    Even stranger, once I got an IV, had my eyes closed, and said this one tasted like plastic instead of metal. Turns out it was a plastic needle they left in for several days.

    And different medications and antibiotics through the needles have strange "tastes" as well. Saline solution is the weirdest.
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    Nov 18, 2008 7:58 PM GMT
    I want to see and taste music too... that would be so cool. =)
    Too bad we can't ever really understand what it feels like, unless we have it.
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    Nov 18, 2008 8:06 PM GMT
    I wonder if it would be possible to see homophobes in a different colour from anyone else? Could come useful in life. Perhaps blood red or crimson would be appropriate. icon_twisted.gif
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    Nov 18, 2008 8:08 PM GMT
    I don't know if this is the same thing?
    But when I sing I literally see the notes as steps. ( on a staircase )

    I also can taste things when I receive injections or get blood drawn.
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    Nov 18, 2008 8:41 PM GMT
    SurrealLife saidI wonder if it would be possible to see homophobes in a different colour from anyone else? Could come useful in life. Perhaps blood red or crimson would be appropriate. icon_twisted.gif


    That'd bring a whole new meaning to Gaydar! LOL
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    Nov 18, 2008 9:27 PM GMT
    My singing duo partner tastes music. When we're singing something particularly well, she'll talk about how delicious that was, literally.
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    Nov 18, 2008 9:50 PM GMT


    OK thanks I feel better now. Some shades of red, like a Coca Cola lunch pail I have, make me taste almond. The red lamp shade in the den, when it's lit, is more a leathery smell with the almond.

    Some voices touch my skin all over. Think heavily swirling hot-tub or hot jello. I caught unholy hell from a teacher in grade ten, because while she was berating me for lousy marks, it got so intense I nearly blacked out in pleasure. I guess it showed because she went from mad to volcanic.

    Needless to say my first long career as a telephone operator was, er, interesting.
    Boss: "Doug, why the hell did you take so long on that call?" Doug blushes steamy hot. Gives boss blank look.
    There's more, but I spent a lot of years thinking I was nuts before seeking professional help, so I don't talk about this too much, til now. Voila, I'm fine after all. Lots of others said I had an overactive imagination. Head-man said no.

    Thanks Surfsdown, for bringing this up and exchanging emails with me about it. Made me brave or foolish or both, it did.

    - Doug

    PS I think just about everyone has this to some degree.
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    Nov 18, 2008 10:52 PM GMT
    surfsdown

    As related to hearing, synaesthesia is the phenomena that frequencies are associated with certain colors typically. Other times associated with other senses or even emotion. I believe that most people have this to a certain degree. The ancient Greeks believed that music evokes moods and emotions. There hasn't been tremendous study in the field being that it occurs so rarely. I think there is one Neuroscientist in Toronto that has some good research on synaesthesia and perfect pitch.

    Perfect PItch and synaesthesia and unrelated. True perfect pitch is actually extremely rare. I've only known one person to have perfect pitch. She was a phenomenal musician. Perfect pitch is the ability to place labels (example letter names) on a frequency of which is perceived as pitch in a Fixed system. Many people have and can learn relative pitch.

    Relative pitch is memorizing and labeling intervals in a Moveable system. With relative pitch we can sing things back, sing and recognize different intervals, but there cannot be a precise label placed on that pitch. People with perfect pitch are generally at a disadvantage with music because music can be moved around (hence moveable system) and sound totally different to them (i.e. A flat is not the same as G sharp). Also, perfect pitch makes it difficult to distinguish notes on the piano in outer registers without adjustment. Remember that the modern tuning system we use for american pop music and the piano is "out of tune". Over the years we've just become accustomed to listening to music this way. Try listening to La Monte Young, he tunes purely for some pieces.

    That's my view.
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    Nov 18, 2008 11:05 PM GMT
    Sounds like Subliminal Dynamics to me.
  • nilbog

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    Nov 18, 2008 11:26 PM GMT
    i hear sounds in my head when i eat certain things.