Synesthesia - A Blending of The Senses
Synesthesia is a neurological disorder in which a sensation is produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality (senses become blended with stimulation/triggers).
- Only recently recognized as a disease
- Over 60 forms (involving different senses and different stimuli)
- Most common is association of numbers, words, or digits with colors (grapheme-color)
- Involuntary, automatic, constant
- Affliction from birth
- Very good memory
- Poor sense of direction
- Often very creative
- Can feel very alone, misunderstood
- Can have very emotional reactions to stimuli
Exact cause unknown
- Irregular sprouting of new neural connections within brain
- Brain is highly malleable and immature
- Brains “rewiring” causes a breakdown between the senses.
- Synesthetes become aware of normally unconscious communication
- Brain tumors/brain damage
- Drug abuse
Stimulation of senses within the brain is confused. Parts of the brain not normally stimulated are activated.
Incidence Rate and Those Affected
Different estimated incidence rates:
- 1 in 90
- 1 in 200
- 1 in 2000
- 1 in 20,000
- 3-4% of the population
Who gets it?
- 3x as many women as men
- Left handed (some believe synesthesia is caused by the left hemisphere of the brain)
- Family history
Synesthesia does not necessarily need to be treated because it is a largely harmless disorder.
- Hypnosis (best treatment to date)
- Psychologists can help work through emotions
- Migraines are a common side effect - aspirin or stronger medication is sometimes needed
Test - Grapheme-Color Synesthesia
If interested in further tests, or to test for other types of synesthesia, search www.synesthete.org