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)


People with synesthesia are called "synesthetes"
  • 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


Synesthesia can affect any and all senses.

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
  • Children

Possible Treatments

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

Get Involved

  • Be kind, aware

Support group:


Holly Phaneuf Erksine:

Be part of the science:

Test - Grapheme-Color Synesthesia

If interested in further tests, or to test for other types of synesthesia, search