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Synesthesia in infants

I'm reading this book, A Thousand Days of Wonder, about a scientist's "study" of his daughter's first 1,000 days.

He talks about synesthesia (simplest definition: mixing of the senses) in infants, how their world is a jumble of intermingling senses for the first few months. Shapes become colors (a triangle may be experienced as red, for example). Some sounds may inspire a reaction from an infant's taste buds or her auditory or visual cortex. For an infant, the world must be a strangely, enriching place.

And then most of us lose this ability. We stop hearing words as tastes, stop seeing shapes as distinct colors. Some of us don't, though. People with synesthesia may see the letter A as orange or hear a person's name as a unique taste, like orange.

I've tried to inspire synesthesia in myself. But I have failed. My brain does not want to work that way. :)

This is a randomly selected book from the New book section at the library. I'm trying to stimulate my brain by reading stuff I normally wouldn't, like stuff about babies, of whom I have very little interest. So far, this is an easy brain stimulant. :)


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2010 03:38 am (UTC)
eep! i dont consider synesthesia an ability but rather a dysfunction. i would be wholely mortified if i started seeing taste or feeling color.
Jan. 9th, 2010 04:28 am (UTC)
I dunno, we're all born with it and it is our entire world for the first six months of our life. That's hardly dysfunctional.

If it was all you were used to and represented a wholly natural approach to viewing the world, I don't think you'd be mortified. The mortification only comes with judgment and perceptions of others, the way we differentiate ourselves...most forms of synesthesia are developmental, meaning it would be your normal experience throughout life. Of course, it can happen with brain or visual cortex damage as well.

Of course, I have grandiose dreams of LITERALLY reading a book via some form of neuronal osmosis...you know, put the book to your head, feel the molecules and atoms with their attached knowledge slip into your brain. It's no wonder that the idea of seeing letters as colors or tasting emotions isn't that off-putting to me. :)
Jan. 9th, 2010 04:49 am (UTC)
i'm just so mortified because i'm already terribly overwhelmed by my regular senses. too loud, too bright, too fast, too tight.
Jan. 9th, 2010 04:57 am (UTC)
I had a professor at my old school who had synesthesia. He was also our director (theatre department). He said he knew a play was right when it tasted like pie. (There was a specific pie he said it tasted like, I think, but I don't remember what it was). I thought that was cool.

I would also love this ability - especially being in the world of the arts. :)
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
I've always had that to some extent. Numbers, letters, and words have colors. Days of the week, months, and numbers have patterns. My mom has the color thing, too, so I wonder if it's genetic to keep that into adulthood.
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:57 pm (UTC)
It's considered pretty heritable, so it seems likely you inherited it from your mom.

Does it ever feel weird or is it just a normal part of your life?
Jan. 9th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
It doesn't feel weird. It's just how I've always been. I had never mentioned it to anyone until recently, and she told me what it was. I had just assumed everyone was like that. :-)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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