Synesthesia - inherited or learned?


Women are more affected by synaesthesia than men - estimates range from only slightly increased to a 7-fold frequency. Sufferers report that they "always", "as far as they can remember" live with the coupling of their senses. There is now evidence that neonates have such a capability in principle, but in most people, these extra synapses atrophy after a few months. Why this does not happen with synaesthetes, is still unclear. However, since it occurs frequently in families, it could well be genetic and therefore inheritable. Interestingly, certain synaesthetes are more common than others. These include giftedness and creativity, but also sensitivity to noise and attention disorders. Perhaps one can imagine this as positive and negative consequences of the increased perception of stimuli, the exact correlations have not yet been clarified.

Synesthesia is not learnable

Even people without synesthesia sometimes have memory experiences in which some senses partially play together. This is how one feels with a certain music exactly the longing that one had 20 years before when dancing to this song with the beloved, or smells the apple pie of the grandmother, who hummed while baking always exactly to this hit. But such conscious sensory connections have nothing to do with the typical, innate color vision. In nonsynesthetes, sensory stimuli are assigned to specific situations and thus stored in the brain. In doing so, they also start to remember together when they remember. Correct synesthesia, however, occurs involuntarily, spontaneously and without the affected person being able to foresee them or filter them out of their consciousness.

Medical technology shows what's going on

Synaesthesia has nothing to do with hallucinations, it occurs with unclouded consciousness. That z. If, for example, color vision is not the imagination of those affected, modern medicine could prove it. The EEG and especially the functional

Magnetic resonance imaging can show the activity of individual brain areas in real time. In this way, scientists were able to show that in synaesthetes with only one sensory stimulus - in most cases it is a sound - not only the hearing center, but also the visual center is activated. The color experiences are so "real", even if the person concerned is the only one who can see them.

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