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What is Synesthesia?

MVSAT 2024

Synesthesia or synaesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory leads to involuntary experiences in another sensory. Individuals who report encountering synesthesia are known as synesthetes.

The word synesthesia has originated from the Greek words synth and ethesia, meaning together and perception. Synesthetic reception experience varies highly from person to person.

Grapheme-color synesthesia is by far the most observed type of synesthesia. Here the person inherently links numerics or letters to colors. Synesthetic stimulations can transpire in any combination and any number of senses, from comprehending music as colors to tasting texture such as pointy or round while having food.

To have a detailed idea of what is synesthesia, take a look at the related factors. 

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Understanding Synesthesia Through Examples 

If you are experiencing synesthesia, you must witness that your senses tend to intertwine, giving your perspicacity of the environment a whole new dimension. You might also be feeling the geometric shape of the food while chunking every bite of it. You might even be witnessing colors every time you close your eyes when you're feeling emotional over a person you love.

You might be even reading these sentences with designated voices in your head, characterizing them with an identity of their own. Similar to what you would have experienced while speaking to an individual in person.

All these experiences are noted synesthesia examples. However, the way of perception of these synesthesia examples highly varies from person to person. 

Causes of Synesthesia

It is not always that people who experience synesthesia are born with it, people can develop the neurological disorder at early childhood and even later. Researchers assert that genetic inheritance can also be a cause of synesthesia.

Each of our senses stimulates a distinct area of our brain. For instance, when you look up at a bright neon-colored wall, it will light up your primary visual cortex, present at the rear half of the brain. Perhaps, if you have synesthesia, you would be able to comprehend the taste of the color while looking at the wall.

So it is not just the primary visual cortex but also the parietal lobe, informing you about the taste stimulated by the color of the wall. Because of the interlinked sensory, researchers believe that individuals having synesthesia possess a high level of interconnectedness between the parts of the brain attached to sensory stimuli.

Some substances can also lead to a temporary cause of synesthesia. Consumption of psychedelic drugs and other substances like cannabis, excess caffeine can also result in temporary synesthesia. Studies say that mescaline, LSD, and even psilocybin can induce this phenomenon. 

Symptoms of Synesthesia

There are various types of synesthesia, all displaying different symptoms.

One of the most known types of synesthesia is Grapheme-color synesthesia, where the synesthetes tend to connect days and letters with colors. There are certain types of synesthesia where the synesthetes connect sounds to colors, number-form, mirror-touch synesthesia, and more. One can observe all types of synesthesia, a single or a combination of few.

Most Common Symptoms of Synesthesia That Synesthetes Experience are:

  • Unconscious perceptions overpass between senses like hearing colors, tasting shapes, and more.

  • Ability to express their unique perspicacity to other people.

  • Sensory triggers that constantly and predictable interplay their senses. (e.g., every time you see alphabet O, you connect it to white synesthesia colors)

Studies even state that people experiencing synesthesia are more likely to be left-handed and are keener on visual arts or music. Also, over time, it has been observed that symptoms of synesthesia are more common in women than in men. 

Treatment for Synesthesia

There is no designated treatment for synesthesia. It is said that people suffering from this out-of-the-box neurological disorder tend to enjoy their different perseverance than the general population. While few feel that their condition isolates them from the general public, making it difficult for them to explain their sensory observance to others. However, finding communities of synesthetes can help reduce the isolation.

Speaking to mental health professionals can also help you change the idea of disorder to an advantage. Instead of relying on the dominant side of the brain, be it left or right, you might find both sides harmonizing as you pursue your passion. 

Synesthesia Test

You can take an online synesthesia test to witness whether you are suffering from one or not. However, one should take over these assessments with caution. You can even self-question yourself to begin the determination process if you believe you are experiencing the condition.

You can question, like, does your mind assign a color when you envision alphabet A? You can go through the entire alphabet chart and envision each one to observe whether you experience synesthesia colors. Try to write down the observation and repeat the same after an interval. And if you observe a similar answer each time you carry out the synesthesia test, you likely have synesthesia.

Another form of self-assisted synesthesia test is the music-to-color form. Play a song you haven't heard before and try to observe whether you relate it to any synesthesia colors when you close your eyes or relate instruments used to any color. If you do, you likely have synesthesia.

Did You Know?

  • Synesthetes suffering from grapheme-color synesthesia associate numerics and letters to colors? That means every time they read or see a number or alphabet; they intuitively connect the same with color.

  • Mirror-touch synesthesia occurs when individuals go through somatosensory sensations while witnessing someone else being touched.

  • Only 0.2% of the global population suffers from lexical-gustatory synesthesia, making it the rarest type of synesthesia.

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FAQs on Synesthesia

1. Name some types of synesthesia.

Grapheme-color synesthesia, mirror-touch synesthesia, lexical-gustatory synesthesia are some of the different types of synesthesia, where grapheme-color synesthesia is the most common form of synesthesia

2. What are synesthesia colors?

A unit of specialists analyzing thousands of personalities who see letters as colors with a rare condition called synesthesia have lately identified a striking pattern of synesthesia color. A large part of synesthetes sees nearly similar colors for the same letters. E.g., O usually shows up as white, A as red, Y as yellow, and B as blue. 

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