What Is Synesthesia?

Synesthesia is a neurologically based condition in which a person experiences "crossed" responses to stimuli. It occurs when stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (e.g., hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (e.g., vision). About 5 percent of the population has synesthesia, and over 60 types have been reported. The most common form of synesthesia is grapheme-color synesthesia, in which people perceive individual letters of the alphabet and numbers to be "shaded" or "tinged" with a color. Other synesthetes commingle sounds with scents, sounds with shapes, or shapes with flavors. 

Recent posts on Synesthesia

Courtesy CC Hart

Vox Synaesthetica, Healer-Artist

By Maureen Seaberg on May 25, 2016 in Sensorium
CC Hart adds more color to synesthesia community...

Daring to Hear Voices

Tulpamancers conjure sentient imaginary friends they experience as voices. They have a lot to teach us about what we never dare to imagine and experience.

The Synesthete of the Shadows

By Maureen Seaberg on April 06, 2016 in Sensorium
The Lonely Vagabond is a Toronto legend...and a synesthete.

Bernie and Hillary Naked on Stage

By Richard E. Cytowic M.D. on February 18, 2016 in The Fallible Mind
Body language broadcasts more than people realize. Politicians try hard not to say what’s really on their mind, but sometimes they might as well be naked on the stage.

When a Lie Reveals a Truth: Insights from the McGurk Effect

Sometimes a lie can reveal a truth about a scientific mystery

Invisible Colors

By Maureen Seaberg on January 21, 2016 in Sensorium
A rare example of a color blind synesthete, Morgan Bauman describes her experiences.

Please Refrain from Slurping!

By Maureen Seaberg on December 11, 2015 in Sensorium
Slurp, snap, gurgle. Learn more about misophonia — an intolerance to eating sounds.

Ambivalence in Addiction

By Richard E. Cytowic M.D. on November 13, 2015 in The Fallible Mind
The Latin word "addictum" once described the length of time an indentured slave had to serve. The person who served that sentence was the "addict." The etymology means “bound to”—just as many of us are hopelessly bound to our screens.

Nurse Literally Feels Your Pain

By Maureen Seaberg on October 01, 2015 in Sensorium
Mirror-touch synesthete medical professionals are the new rock stars of the bonus senses set...

The Pink Synesthesia Ranger

By Maureen Seaberg on September 25, 2015 in Sensorium
Bryonna Fissori is The Pink Ranger due to her synesthetic colors...

Out of Darkness and Into a Glowing World of Technicolor

Gina Marie Applebee had been blind for five years when her senses woke up and she started imagining reality in ways that often accurately reflect her surroundings.

Rise of the Machine Empaths

By Maureen Seaberg on August 30, 2015 in Sensorium
Catherine Johnston, 24, has a rare form of mirror-touch synesthesia which extends to machines.

The Future of Synesthesia Research

By Maureen Seaberg on June 03, 2015 in Sensorium
One of synesthesia research's bright young stars, Candita Wager

Do Sounds Have Shapes?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on May 06, 2015 in Talking Apes
Synesthesia, or a mixing of the senses, may tell us something about the origin of speech.

Geography of Aging and the Illusion of Self

By Mario D Garrett Ph.D. on May 04, 2015 in iAge
My body is a fusion of the outside world and an internal reality. The distinction between me and them is purely a creation of my mind.

Diplomatic Synesthesia

By Maureen Seaberg on April 09, 2015 in Sensorium
Diplomat Mo Sacirbey reports the geometric synesthesia he experiences during negotiations...

Two Synesthetes Walk Into a Bar...

By Maureen Seaberg on March 25, 2015 in Sensorium
What's So Funny About Synesthesia? Plenty!

First Synesthete on Mars?

By Maureen Seaberg on February 24, 2015 in Sensorium
Synesthete Andrew Tunks believes our mind's inner space is crucial to success in outer space.

Bricks for Nik

By Maureen Seaberg on October 23, 2014 in Sensorium
Alternating currents: history is finally catching up on brilliant synesthete inventor Nikola Tesla.

"Synesthesia is in the mind, not the brain" - Geoffrey Rush

By Maureen Seaberg on September 01, 2014 in Sensorium
Geoffrey Rush believes synesthesia lives in the realm of the senses and the mind, not the brain alone.

LUSH Spa's Blissful Synaesthesia Massage

By Maureen Seaberg on August 22, 2014 in Sensorium
LUSH's Synaesthesia Massage was created by actual synaesthetes...

Geoffrey Rush On His Synesthesia

By Maureen Seaberg on August 05, 2014 in Sensorium
Geoffrey Rush of Australia has several forms of synesthesia...

Sensory Sensitivity and Synesthesia

By Michael Jawer on July 23, 2014 in Feeling Too Much
Hypersensitivity is the first of many intriguing correspondences between synesthesia, autism, savantism, and prodigiousness.

The Letters on the Blocks in Kindergarten Weren’t “Right”

After finding out that his condition was genetic my grandfather asked all of his grandkids, “What color is 3?” Turned out he and I shared colored letters.

Brilliant Brain By Accident

“I believe I am living proof that these powers lie dormant in all of us,” Jason Padgett writes in Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Released today.

What Do Words Taste Like?

The German word “Pilz” (mushroom) has the taste and texture of marzipan, even though I fully realize that it means mushroom in English. The word “mushroom” tastes like a mushroom.

Struck by Genius

By Maureen Seaberg on April 06, 2014 in Sensorium
Acquired savant and synesthete Jason Padgett was struck by genius.

The Girl Who Heard Colors

By Maureen Seaberg on March 12, 2014 in Sensorium
The Girl Who Heard Colors has an important message for young children.

HBO's New Hit Series "True Detective" Features Synesthete

By Maureen Seaberg on January 29, 2014 in Sensorium
HBO "True Detective" creator Nic Pizzolatto is a synesthete who has now created a hit show featuring a synesthete character…

Synesthesia Finally Has Resume Value

By Maureen Seaberg on January 21, 2014 in Sensorium
Update those resumes and business cards, synesthetes!