Synesthesia - When sounds become colors

Artists like Franz Liszt and Wassily Kandinsky had it well, many scientists also own it: an additional channel of perception. The ability to see tones as colors, taste words or feel letters is called synaesthesia. The term comes from ancient Greek: "syn" means "together", "aisthesis" the feeling - a fitting description for the phenomenon that at least one other is stimulated by the irritation of one sense organ.

Synesthesia is not a disease and is not imagined or hallucinated. Rather, it is a neurological-psychological phenomenon that occurs more frequently than previously thought. Recent research suggests that up to 4% of synesthetes in the population. In the past, synaesthetes were smiled at best as a little cranky, in recent years, the phenomenon has become known and is perceived as an additional gift. Also for psychologists and neuroscientists synesthesia offers an exciting field of research, especially as they hope to learn more about how human perception actually works.

Typical signs of synesthesia

Synaesthetic sensations can not be influenced: they arise involuntarily as a consequence of a certain trigger - often simple geometric forms, but also abstract concepts such as days of the week or numbers, sounds and even feelings. Every synesthesia is clear: a certain stimulus triggers a certain additional sensation in a synaesthetist, which is reserved for this stimulus. Does he feel z. For example, if an A is blue, the blue of a H is different. Also, the experiences are not reversible: If the sound of a trumpet triggers the color sensation "red" in a person, it does not hear a trumpet when it looks at this red hue. Synaesthetes perceive their perceptions as natural, remember them later and can describe them exactly.

Color hearing (audition colorée), ie color associations when hearing noises, is the most common form of synesthesia. These sensations are also called photisms (phos = light); Hearing sensations that are triggered by non-acoustic sensory stimuli, corresponding to phonemes (phone = voice). Even blind synesthics can experience secrets in the sound of certain sounds, music or voices - as early as 1710, a person was described who, despite their blindness, described sound-related color experiences.

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