I’ve been working/re-working this topic for a while now on my blog, trying to gather information on the subject by talking to people who experience it on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps this will lead to a worthwhile discussion.
So, what exactly is synesthesia? It’s more of a neurological phenomenon, where a stimulus in one part of the brain triggers a response in another, unrelated brain region—for example, seeing sounds as colours,shapes, and relational space. Multiple types of synesthesia have been reported, though there are hundreds of possible types out there. The most common types are grapheme-colour, sound-colour and day of the week/month-colour. In short, synesthesia is when someone associates/experiences colours with sounds, numbers and words.
[As seen on the wikipedia page]
From my understanding, there are two categories of synesthesia (perhaps more): projected and associated. Someone with projected synesthesia (let’s say sound-to-colour) actually sees the colours in their field of vision. Someone with associated synesthesia sees the colours in their “mind’s eye”. Both types are equally valid; associated in many different types of synesthesia.
One study I read suggested that 1 in 2,000 people are synesthetes, but another (LiveScience) found it was 1 in 23. Obviously more research is needed to figure out what the real prevalence is, but I would imagine it’s closer to the 1 in 23 statistic, especially considering I’ve met (and become friends) w/ four random people who experience it on a regular basis in the last year alone. The difference between men and women is prevalent as well. Studies show that three times as many women as men have experience synesthesia, but this might be because women are more likely to acknowledge having it, more so than men. Though studies have often shown it’s more prevalent in women. Synesthesia is also associated with other traits and conditions such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), OCD, left-handedness and being artistic.
Do any of you experience the phenomenon known as synesthesia? Or do you have friends who do? I’d love to hear your feedback on the subject.
For more information on this topic, I direct you to these pages: