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Synesthetes Explain How Their Brains Turn Words Into Tastes

While you likely experience numbers and letters as images, music as sound, and color as, well, color, there is a special kind of person who doesn’t. These people have synesthesia, a rare neurological phenomenon where senses collide; the stimulation of one sense triggers another, creating associations that would be like hallucinations to most of us. You know, like the word ‘English’ tasting like a slice of lemon, or seeing violins as navy blue rectangles-things we can only imagine. In the latest episode of Great Big Story (above), synesthetes try to bring us into their world.

Seeing numbers paired with colors must be mind-boggling, though seeing songs or soundtracks as colors is unfathomable. One woman describes seeing her favorite Flashdance hit “What a Feeling” as yellow, and “She’s a Maniac” as blue. Isn’t that bizarre? Another woman claims the word ‘people’ spawns a certain meaty taste, and another description of her experience with physical pain sounds like it’s out of a story book. There are no rules for synesthesia; it appears that everyone’s experience is unique, which makes it even more fascinating.

And despite all this apparent over-stimulation, synesthetes couldn’t imagine what their life would be like without synesthesia. “Empty,” one describes. If I experienced the world this way, I’d be upset if it was all taken away too.

Are any of our readers synesthetes? Or has anyone ever met a person with synesthesia? Don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter, or make a comment below.

HT: Laughing Squid

IMAGE: YouTube/Great Big Story

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