Seeing music in colour: Not just for stoners anymore!
November 21, 2011 2:02 PM Subscribe
posted by guster4lovers (65 comments total)
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Scientists have found that people with synesthesia
, a condition wherein people have strong links between sensory experiences (such as hearing music as colours, or recalling a particular taste with a strong visual memory), may be caused by neural overstimulation in the visual cortex
. The original paper (abstract and full text in pdf): Enhanced Cortical Excitability in Grapheme-Color Synesthesia and Its Modulation
Synesthesia has also been described as a blending of the senses
, and it seems to happen to people whose perceptual neurons get too excited and then take in more stimulus than actually exists. The brain then tries to work through all the inconsistent stimuli and results in senses comingling.
From the results of the original study:
* Unusually high activity levels in these neurons could help them form and strengthen connections between senses, the researchers say, while similar connections in most of our brains simply peter out.
* Other researchers have suggested this tendency to connect two senses could mean that people with synesthesia are better at making connections between other disparate ideas.
Famous people who have reported having synesthesia:
Vladimir Nobokov, author of Lolita
Physicist Richard Feynman
Musicians Billy Joel, John Mayer, Syd Barrett (founder of Pink Floyd), Duke Ellington and many, many more