Are you a synesthetic?

“The letter A is blue, it looks friendly. The letter I is orange, it always looks angry.”

“When I touch the velvet, I will taste the lemon in my mouth.”

In any ordinary person who has not experienced the extraordinary combination of the feelings of two different senses, the testimony of these synaesthetic people sounds absurd. However, these combinations are spontaneous (unable to start as desired), consistent (the letter A is unstoppable to appear blue) and unique (not all synaesthetic people combine the letter A with the blue).

Synaesthesia, which refers to the stimulation of a channel, can cause the feeling of the channel, but now it still causes the feeling of another channel. Although synesthesia is unusual, it is not uncommon. Some experts even estimate that one out of every six people may be more or less synaesthetic. Most synaesthetes don’t tell others that they have this “special function”, perhaps because they find that others don’t have the same experience as themselves, so they are willing to avoid being out of place. However, it seems that each of the synaesthetic experiences have different ways of expression, which makes the scientists who conduct synaesthesia feel very difficult. The research can only be carried out among the volunteers who volunteer to participate. In fact, thanks to the advancement of cerebral angiography technology, the scientific works on synaesthesia have gradually attracted attention since the beginning of 2000. Even so, the scientists’ understanding of synesthesia is only advancing at an ant-like pace.

Where does the synesthesia come from?

Synaesthesia is difficult to characterize, and it is basically considered to be an abnormal neurological function. “There is often such a problem in research surveys. In most cases, synaesthetic people will not complain about the combination of the different sensations they experience.” Brain and Cognitive Research at the University of Toulouse Purpan University Medical Center, France Center researcher Jean-Michel Yu Pei stressed. “Lianjue is often combined with positive emotions. It is difficult for synaesthetic people to understand that those who are not connected can not experience such a wonderful feeling in life.

Scientists have now identified synapses in more than 60 different ways of expression, the most common being color-character synesthesia, followed by sound-color synesthesia and synaptic structure of sequence space (eg, 7 days a week) Rings, numbers show the shape of large waves, etc.). The emergence of synaesthesia associated with acquiring content, such as reading, calculations, or music in childhood, directs researchers to consider possible associations generated by synapses, which may sometimes form in areas of the brain that control human behavior. The researchers’ initial hypothesis was that the brain had an additional neural connection between the regions, which caused the structure to change, resulting in synesthesia. Later, it was thought that it was more likely that the brain’s ability to suppress existing neural connections was weakened, resulting in a mutual association of sensations. Some of the latest hypotheses tend to suggest that synapses form a combination of multiple sensations through diverse learning during the first few years of neural connection formation. As the brain matures, some synaesthesia does not disappear. The reason may be that they are useful, perhaps just because they are harmless, perhaps because they are pleasant.


Lianjue people generally have this unusual feeling “from the moment of writing.” The combination of different sensations usually appears in childhood, and from childhood, it constitutes a shocking life landscape.

However, in contrast, some synesthesia may occur after the brain has been traumatized or after certain conditions have emerged, such as Parkinson’s disease, optic neuropathy, or temporal lobe lesions. Therefore, synesthesia can also be intermittent. Synaesthesia sometimes occurs with migraine and disappears after the migraine symptoms are over. Similarly, the use of certain narcotic drugs often leads to synapses, and synapses disappear when the effects are over. By looking at the state of the neural network when it stops working, these special cases provide a special perspective for understanding the normal operation of the neural network. These short-lived synesthesias therefore support the argument that synapses arise because of a lack of inhibition of neural connections between brain regions, rather than because of extra connections or special structures, because extra connections are difficult to take. The anesthetic is formed in a short period of time.

Some blind people will explain that the sound they hear is colored. Scientists have discovered an interesting phenomenon, that is, a person with normal vision, when he is blindfolded, will also have a synesthetic effect. That is to say, blindness leads to the creation of new neural bonds, which compensate for the feeling of loss by creating new feelings about the environment. These acquired synesthesias give us more reason to believe that the synesthesia phenomenon developed in the day after tomorrow is very normal and is the result of a cognitive learning strategy that is different from most situations. However, synesthesia brings people not all good feelings, sometimes accompanied by a great degree of inconvenience. When a word is given a particular taste, reading it becomes difficult; when the characters are covered in “ugly” colors, it becomes difficult to appreciate an article; when a certain cloth makes When people think of an unpleasant smell, clothes made of this material become unbearable; when the numbers are automatically arranged neatly in a more complex space than the scale, simple arithmetic tasks are complicated; When synesthesia appears together with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the life of obsessive-compulsive patients becomes more complicated, especially those who are severely synaesthetic, and the synaesthesia they produce is both complicated and complicated.

a well-known neurological property

In the ancient Persian literature, there is a record of the corresponding sound and color. However, in the early 19th century, the synesthesia phenomenon caught the attention of the scientific community. By the end of the 19th century, romanticism nourished the imagination of mysticism, and synesthesia was even interpreted as a precursor to psychic phenomena. Some synaesthetes combine color with the people around them, but sometimes they combine with the emotions they cast on these people. Science always illuminates the human spirit a little bit, but in the case of synesthesia, the light of science is still weak. Although it is somewhat difficult to show ordinary people the unusual experience that synaesthetic people feel, it is possible to explain what this phenomenon is. Most people combine sharp voices with “small” feelings and combine low voices with “big”. From an evolutionary perspective, this combination undoubtedly comes from the fact that small objects, people or animals make sharper sounds. Humans have mastered this ability in evolution. In order to distinguish the sound behind them from a bear or a mouse, human beings instinctively establish a connection between sound and objects, and you can know whether there is danger without turning around.

Similarly, when people smell a bottle of wine with a ripe fruit aroma, they will subconsciously think that the bottle is sweet, even if it is not. This is because whenever people chew ripe fruit, they will feel sweet. The neural circuits that establish these connections are related to learning and memory, and thus to the emotional circuits of the brain.

Famous synaesthetic

Although scientists have not confirmed the relationship between synesthesia and creativity, the experience of synaesthesia has occurred in many artists. In his autobiography, Vladimir Nabokov mentioned the synesthesia that he and his wife experienced, and the fact that their son is also a synaesthetic seems to support the hypothesis that synaesthesia can be genetically inherited.

In addition, many composers have seen the sound of color. The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius wrote in his diary that he saw the sounds are colored, but he rarely talked to people because he was worried that he would be laughed at. Is Vasily Kandinsky, the founder of Russian abstraction, a synaesthetic who may still be controversial today, but includes American artist Carol? Many painters, such as Stern, have mentioned their sense of color, and often show them in their works.