Colors are usually experienced with sight, but what if you could hear, taste or feel colors? Some people can!
ARTICLE CREDIT: https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/syne.html
Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses such as sight. Another form of synesthesia joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people’s names with a sensory perception such as smell, color or flavor. The word synesthesia comes from two Greek words, syn (together) and aisthesis (perception). Therefore, synesthesia literally means “joined perception.”
Synesthesia can involve any of the senses. The most common form, colored letters and numbers, occurs when someone always sees a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet or number. For example, a synesthete (a person with synesthesia) might see the word “plane” as mint green or the number “4” as dark brown. There are also synesthetes who hear sounds in response to smell, who smell in response to touch, or who feel something in response to sight. Just about any combination of the senses is possible. There are some people who possess synesthesia involving three or even more senses, but this is extremely rare.
Estimates for the number of people with synesthesia range from 1 in 200 to 1 in 100,000. There are probably many people who have the condition but do not realize what it is.
Chromesthesia is sound-to-colour synesthesia, the kind which most intrigued the artist Wassily Kandinsky, and which many of his paintings attempt to evoke.
Here is one of his paintings, called “Yellow, Red and Blue”:
People with chromesthesia hear sounds and these automatically and unintentionally make them experience colours.
To someone who doesn’t experience this, it sounds weird or distracting, that you’d suddenly start seeing colours while listening to music, but to synesthetes who have grown up with this, it’s just their normal, everyday, experience.
It’s no more unsettling than having a particular song remind you of a place you used to live, perhaps less so.
The variety that’s been found even within this one type of synesthesia is mind-boggling.
Some of those with chromesthesia find the colours are projected into space in front of them; others see it in their ‘mind’s eye’.
Some only get the chromesthesia for spoken words, which are influenced by the voice’s accent, pitch and intonation; others just for music.
While infants, say some scientists, we all experienced synesthesia, but for most of us these strange sensory cross-connections vanished in the normal course of development.
A new study even suggests that people may be able to teach themselves to have synesthetic experiences.