This Doctor Knows Exactly How You Feel Mirror-touch synesthetes struggle with the constant intrusion of others’ feelings. At a symposium on mirror-touch synesthesia last year in London, a woman named Fiona Torrance of Liverpool described how she had once seen one man punch another. She promptly passed out in a car. Her boyfriend at the time found her unconscious and took her to the hospital. “I felt the punch,” she explained. As a child, she once saw a man kill an otter with a spade on television. She was inconsolable for a month, feeling as if she’d killed the otter herself. To this day, she takes medication to control the sensory onslaught, and she does not own a television. A recent episode of the NPR program Invisibilia profiled another woman with the condition who has essentially become a shut-in.
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
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 [more inside]
Jason Padgett is the first person to acquire synasthesia and savantism by head trauma. Three years after his mugging, he began drawing complex geometries, including hand-drawn approximations of fractals, the first time anyone had ever done so. Eventually a mathematician suggested Padgett take a math course; with trigonometric notation Padgett offered a proof of his approximation of Pi. [more inside]
So we're stuck in a position where we know too little to commit to atheism and we know too much to commit to religion. That put me somewhere in the middle. I don't prefer the term agnostic because agnosticism is often used as a weak term that means I'm not sure if the guy with the beard on the cloud exists or doesn't exist. So I call myself a possibilian. [more inside]
"Associative Musical Visual Intelligence (or "amvi" for short) is a type of intelligence that's difficult enough to define, let alone test. Many creative people can associate across sensory domains: they "hear" hints of shapes and can "taste" the essense of colors. At its most extreme this phenomenon is called synesthesia. However, I believe that creative people subconsciously employ elements of synesthesia every day when attempting to think of things in new ways. This is a logic test that attempts to measure one's ability to correlate musical phrases with abstract shapes and symbols." [more inside]
Visual acoustics is a concept for interactive expression.
The Ecology of Magic is the abbreviated first chapter of David Abram's Spell of the Sensuous. Abram explores the intersection of phenomenology, synesthesia and linguistics to discover the magic of the alphabet, the sacred winds, and ultimately, the root of animism. Abram finds the locus of these superstitions not in an imagined metaphysical sphere, but rooted in our sensuous experience of the world around us. He attributes much of our cavalier attitude towards our environment to our separation from our own experience, and ultimately, our loss of magic. "The fate of the earth depends on a return to our senses."
Color of My Sound. Choose a color of a sound or song and see how others have voted with their comments. Add your own audio files. (more)
The links between some neurological disorders and increased artistic abilities are well documented. Some with decreased abilities elsewhere, such as those with semantic dementia, use it as a coping mechanism, whereas those with synaesthesia combine multiple senses to enhance their works. While some drugs, specifically LSD, can artificially produce synesthesia, that probably isn't a good muse.
Phantom limb illusions Dr. Ramachandran is an investigator of the senses. His explorations on synesthesia, phantom limbs, and human consciousness are revealing excursions into sensory awareness. And his reader-friendly books, such as A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness and Phantoms in the Brain (both from Amazon) are a pleasure to read. His greatest gifts appear to be a childlike simplicity, coupled with straightforward empiricism. His writing is easy-to-understand, often sparked with unpredictable humor. Recommended for all mind & brain enthusiasts who may not have heard of him yet.
"Modern scientists have known about synesthesia since 1880, when Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, published a paper in Nature on the phenomenon. But most have brushed it aside as fakery, an artifact of drug use (LSD and mescaline can produce similar effects) or a mere curiosity. About four years ago, however, we and others began to uncover brain processes that could account for synesthesia. " This article from Scientific American seems to be turning heads around the Psychology Department at U of M [Michigan]. It's got me going too. I've seen real connections between color and sound before, stone sober. Could there be something to all this?
Are you seeing the world differently? You may be suffering from synesthesia, a rare condition that allows an individual to perceive symbols in color. Someone who has synesthesia will read a newspaper in multitudinous colors, often perceiving a color change within particular syllables. In one case reported in this article, a man overhead a conversation in Korean, only to have his mind inundated with colors, despite being unable to understand the words. Rare condition or a state of sensory cognition to come?