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Synesthesia, some people perceive individual symbols, characters, numbers

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kchiki
#289
Nov26-10, 10:58 AM
P: 5
I've been reading through this thread and definitely don't want to derail any conversation about MadHatter's experiences with vision, etc. But this forum has the most recent posts of any I've found about synesthesia and honestly, has the best scientific approach to mapping it out and understanding it.

I only realized a few months ago that not everyone sees colors for letters, numbers, days of the week and months of the year. I actually found out that there is a name for it completely by accident while taking a personality quiz online.

I've gone through the battery of tests at synesthete.org and scored better than even I thought I would. Here's a summary of what I've learned is synesthetic about how I perceive the world.
  • Letters and Numbers -> Colors
  • Days of the Week, Months of the Year -> Colors
  • Pain -> Colors
  • People (Personalities, I suppose) -> Colors
  • Sound -> Physical Sensations
  • Musical Tones -> Colors

To further elaborate, harsh sounds feel like sand or grit peppering my skin from the direction of the sound. Some softer sounds are more like a very mild tingle, always from the direction of the sound. Another interesting thing that I'm not sure is synesthetic is that if I'm startled (for instance, if a car stops suddenly in front of mine in traffic), I physically feel a strong harsh tingle all over my face, arms, hands, chest, etc.

Pain evokes color in my mind's eye, usually warm bright tones.

I automatically attribute colors to people. I myself am a deep purple.

I have very few "cool" colors in my letters and numbers (meaning, blues, greens, purples). The ones I do have are very dark. Most of my letters and numbers, and all of my weekdays are reds, oranges, yellows, browns and white, which are none of my favorite colors. (If I could change them, I would have mostly greens, blues and purples!) My months are the only ones that have any soft colors, and they're only February (pale blue) and April (pink).

Music evokes colors in my head to the extent that different tones make me "think" in different colors. For instance, a song on the radio may make all my thoughts blue-ish grey.

I don't physically see any colors with my eyes. All of my colors are strictly internal.

I've done a very informal poll in my social circle and have found one synesthete on the same level as me, and one very mild one, but that's it so far. I have yet to ask my father and sister whether they do it too, but once I do, I'll report back.

I think it's great the way Rhody and some others are approaching this, as it's completely fascinating to me to experience it. It's completely involuntary and I can't change any of it willingly. 2 will always be yellow and S will always be deep, dark blue.
rhody
#290
Nov26-10, 11:43 AM
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Quote Quote by kchiki View Post
I've been reading through this thread and definitely don't want to derail any conversation about MadHatter's experiences with vision, etc. But this forum has the most recent posts of any I've found about synesthesia and honestly, has the best scientific approach to mapping it out and understanding it.

I only realized a few months ago that not everyone sees colors for letters, numbers, days of the week and months of the year. I actually found out that there is a name for it completely by accident while taking a personality quiz online.

I've gone through the battery of tests at synesthete.org and scored better than even I thought I would. Here's a summary of what I've learned is synesthetic about how I perceive the world.
  • Letters and Numbers -> Colors
  • Days of the Week, Months of the Year -> Colors
  • Pain -> Colors
  • People (Personalities, I suppose) -> Colors
  • Sound -> Physical Sensations
  • Musical Tones -> Colors

To further elaborate, harsh sounds feel like sand or grit peppering my skin from the direction of the sound. Some softer sounds are more like a very mild tingle, always from the direction of the sound. Another interesting thing that I'm not sure is synesthetic is that if I'm startled (for instance, if a car stops suddenly in front of mine in traffic), I physically feel a strong harsh tingle all over my face, arms, hands, chest, etc.

Pain evokes color in my mind's eye, usually warm bright tones.

I automatically attribute colors to people. I myself am a deep purple.

I have very few "cool" colors in my letters and numbers (meaning, blues, greens, purples). The ones I do have are very dark. Most of my letters and numbers, and all of my weekdays are reds, oranges, yellows, browns and white, which are none of my favorite colors. (If I could change them, I would have mostly greens, blues and purples!) My months are the only ones that have any soft colors, and they're only February (pale blue) and April (pink).

Music evokes colors in my head to the extent that different tones make me "think" in different colors. For instance, a song on the radio may make all my thoughts blue-ish grey.

I don't physically see any colors with my eyes. All of my colors are strictly internal.

I've done a very informal poll in my social circle and have found one synesthete on the same level as me, and one very mild one, but that's it so far. I have yet to ask my father and sister whether they do it too, but once I do, I'll report back.

I think it's great the way Rhody and some others are approaching this, as it's completely fascinating to me to experience it. It's completely involuntary and I can't change any of it willingly. 2 will always be yellow and S will always be deep, dark blue.
kchiki,

First, welcome to PF, as have so succinctly stated there is a wealth of knowledge and experience in this thread, that I discovered I have a mild form of color grapheme synesthesia (mild pinks and greens when viewing light letters and dark backgrounds), and if it were not for reading, posting, questioning, and exploring we would not have this wonderful body of knowledge and experience here. Waht even has fragmentary music -> color synesthesia, something no one has acknowledged or identified officially yet. It seems the possibilities for it's expression are endless, and not easily categorized, because the list of attributes simply keeps growing and growing.

There are many PF members, waht, zoobyshoe, fuzzyfelt, Rasalhague to mention a few of the important contributors to this thread, they should be given credit as well, but your complement is acknowledged and appreciated.

You seem comfortable with your own forms of it, repeated below:

Letters and Numbers -> Colors
Days of the Week, Months of the Year -> Colors
Pain -> Colors
People (Personalities, I suppose) -> Colors
Sound -> Physical Sensations
Musical Tones -> Colors

Could you elaborate a bit on more examples involving Sound -> Physical Sensations form of it ?

Rhody...

P.S. How did you discover Physics Forums ?
kchiki
#291
Nov26-10, 12:25 PM
P: 5
I'm not sure how else to explain it other than what I previously posted;

To further elaborate, harsh sounds feel like sand or grit peppering my skin from the direction of the sound. Some softer sounds are more like a very mild tingle, always from the direction of the sound. Another interesting thing that I'm not sure is synesthetic is that if I'm startled (for instance, if a car stops suddenly in front of mine in traffic), I physically feel a strong harsh tingle all over my face, arms, hands, chest, etc.

but I can offer a few more examples.

Gunshots (thankfully I'm not around gunfire very often), cars backfiring, very loud sudden noises feel a lot like being pelted with sand or very small hard objects. It's almost like being pricked in a million different places on the surface of my skin, at the same time, from one direction, and lasts for a comparable duration to the original sound itself.

I also get a very mild physical sensation from less dramatic noises, like a Coke can falling into the bin of a drink machine, for example.

Another example; I work in IT, and currently on my left is a running pc that makes a low constant fan noise. I don't notice it for the most part, but while I was typing out my original post and was trying to think of how to explain the sound -> physical sensation experience, I realized that I "feel" that low constant noise on my left side. It's very hard to describe. It's almost like having a very, very mild goosebumps sensation on that arm, shoulder, leg and that side of my neck, face and ribcage. It's not unpleasant and the only reason I really noticed it at all was because I was focusing on explaining the sensations in the first place. I don't feel it at all on my right.

I startle easily and when I get startled, I do get a very intense pin-prick/"pelted with sand or tiny pebbles" feeling from the general direction of whatever startled me. The intensity of the physical feeling is directly proportional to how badly I'm startled.

I actually found Physics Forums by searching synesthesia on Google.

This thread is incredibly long and I'm still reading through some of the later entries, but I didn't mean to not acknowledge any other contributors. You (Rhody) were the first poster that showed a very large interest in coordinating symptoms/characteristics and so that's why you stuck out in my mind.
rhody
#292
Nov26-10, 01:15 PM
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kchiki,

Thanks for you input, after reading a summary of your sensations, and I interpret what you said to mean physical sensation due to sound when you said,

"I startle easily and when I get startled, I do get a very intense pin-prick/"pelted with sand or tiny pebbles" feeling from the general direction of whatever startled me. The intensity of the physical feeling is directly proportional to how badly I'm startled."

is it the same sensation "physically" as it would be if you were actually pelted with sand, or in your "minds eye" so to speak.

You also should review Fuzzyfelt's thread below:

Do you get musical chills ?

and listen and then watch some of the videos, and report what you feel, sense.
It would be an interesting experience for you, and I am sure we may discover some new things especially since you have multiple forms of synesthesia.

I guessed "google" was you discovery method, that must mean our thread is fairly highly ranked. I hope you stay awhile and browse other forums, their is a ton of good information to be had here. Be sure to use the advanced search feature and type in members ID's who post interesting stuff. Chances are you will find more interesting topics.

Rhody...
kchiki
#293
Nov26-10, 01:23 PM
P: 5
The all-knowing, all-seeing Google, heh.

It is a real physical sensation on my skin, akin to goosebumps, chills, etc. So colors are only in my mind's eye but sounds are a very real physical sensation. Strange, huh?

I just got ahold of my younger sister and she associates colors with weekdays and some letters and months. But apparently not to the extent that I do.

I'll definitely check out Fuzzyfelt's thread. You're right in that should be an interesting experience. As I said, I've only been exploring this for a few months, all while working full-time, parenting, etc. My son is almost 3. I'm very interested in whether he has any synesthetic traits or not. My husband does not and my Father doesn't either. My mother is deceased, so we may never know if she did or not.
fuzzyfelt
#294
Nov27-10, 04:36 AM
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Thanks for checking the musical chills thread, kchiki.

Also, just a thought, but I wonder if synaesthesia, or an awareness of synaesthesia might affect how children are taught the alphabet or months, etc., e.g. by allowing children to select colours to trace letters.
kchiki
#295
Nov27-10, 07:10 AM
P: 5
That's an interesting thought! I haven't asked my son yet what color "A" is but may ask him to see how long he considers an answer. If he comes up with a color, I'm definitely open to letting him use that color to draw it out and practice.
waht
#296
Nov27-10, 10:44 AM
P: 1,636
Quote Quote by kchiki View Post
The all-knowing, all-seeing Google, heh.

It is a real physical sensation on my skin, akin to goosebumps, chills, etc. So colors are only in my mind's eye but sounds are a very real physical sensation. Strange, huh?

I just got ahold of my younger sister and she associates colors with weekdays and some letters and months. But apparently not to the extent that I do.

I'll definitely check out Fuzzyfelt's thread. You're right in that should be an interesting experience. As I said, I've only been exploring this for a few months, all while working full-time, parenting, etc. My son is almost 3. I'm very interested in whether he has any synesthetic traits or not. My husband does not and my Father doesn't either. My mother is deceased, so we may never know if she did or not.
Quote Quote by kchiki View Post
That's an interesting thought! I haven't asked my son yet what color "A" is but may ask him to see how long he considers an answer. If he comes up with a color, I'm definitely open to letting him use that color to draw it out and practice.

Welcome to PF kchiki, your post is highly appreciated.

You could get involved with your son by writing a journal about colors he is exposed to throughout his early childhood. Take note of the color of walls in his room, the color of toys he plays with, the color of books, and major cartoon characters. Once he will attend grade school, note the color of the school, the hallways, and his classroom. Or take pictures if possible.

Why am I suggesting this? I've tried to understand my situation, how and when my letter to color mappings were made. When I think about it a little too hard I get this:

About seven letters in the alphabet are yellow of distinct shades. The grade school I went to was also yellow whose shade closely resembles letters 'a' and 'u'. The hallways in the school were darker yellow about the same shade as letter 'e' or 'q'. My grade school had a brown signet with a giant letter 'k' in it. My synesthesia color for 'k' is also brown. When I was little I used to call my dad 'tata' which is similar to 'papa'. But since my dad wore blue flannel shirts all the time, the synasthesia letter for 't' is also blue.

I don't know if this is just a fluke, it could very be, I'm just speculating. Or was this synesthesia in the making? I'll probably never know.

But that's why I've suggested to keep a journal. Maybe something interesting will show up.
rhody
#297
Nov27-10, 11:19 AM
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Quote Quote by waht View Post
Why am I suggesting this? I've tried to understand my situation, how and when my letter to color mappings were made. When I think about it a little too hard I get this:

About seven letters in the alphabet are yellow of distinct shades. The grade school I went to was also yellow whose shade closely resembles letters 'a' and 'u'. The hallways in the school were darker yellow about the same shade as letter 'e' or 'q'. My grade school had a brown signet with a giant letter 'k' in it. My synesthesia color for 'k' is also brown. When I was little I used to call my dad 'tata' which is similar to 'papa'. But since my dad wore blue flannel shirts all the time, the synasthesia letter for 't' is also blue.

I don't know if this is just a fluke, it could very be, I'm just speculating. Or was this synesthesia in the making? I'll probably never know.

But that's why I've suggested to keep a journal. Maybe something interesting will show up.
waht,

Holy .... ! The level of detail and memory you provide associated with the colors and large letter K signet is absolutely brilliant ! When and how did this all "click" in your mind, or have you just been hiding this from us ?

I am often reminded how synesthesia is not carved in stone and that it is documented that people who meditate for a decade or more seem somewhere along the way to develop multiple forms of it in the process. I have not seen a shred of evidence of "rapidly emerging synesthesia" which may shed some light on the process, we need an experiment that allows for a rapid, testable, and repeatable experiment that does this. Maybe from someone who is thinking deeply about this. Waht, you are on a roll, how about giving it a shot ?

Maybe our plastic brains have ways of "imprinting" these wandering neurological pathways, better yet, since as Merzenich's describes in his research, that brain maps change every couple of weeks, this fact is now beyond a shadow of doubt based on competition for valuable neurological "real estate", that nagging question that keeps driving my curiosity, is that some deeper yet unidentified QM and electromagnetic principle is at work here. It drives me nuts, I feel like an ant on a log and unable to truly "step back" and get the big picture based on more fundamental principles. It makes me that much more determined than ever, and with a bit of OCD in my makeup, it helps, hehe. I will not quit, but keep exploring uncharted avenues and dark alleys looking for clues.

Rhody...

P.S.

Waht, did you get chills when you realized this ?
waht
#298
Nov27-10, 12:45 PM
P: 1,636
Quote Quote by rhody View Post
Holy .... ! The level of detail and memory you provide associated with the colors and large letter K signet is absolutely brilliant ! When and how did this all "click" in your mind, or have you just been hiding this from us ?
Thanks Rhody. I have alot of vivid memories from childhood. But the idea certainly didn't click over night, but rather, it's a culmination of giving it lots of thought and introspection. A good place to start is to try and remember the time when I first experienced the letter colors. I'm pretty certain that it was first in that grade school I've described, around 2nd or 3rd grade.

I am often reminded how synesthesia is not carved in stone and that it is documented that people who meditate for a decade or more seem somewhere along the way to develop multiple forms of it in the process. I have not seen a shred of evidence of "rapidly emerging synesthesia" which may shed some light on the process, we need an experiment that allows for a rapid, testable, and repeatable experiment that does this. Maybe from someone who is thinking deeply about this. Waht, you are on a roll, how about giving it a shot ?
Me too. Ever since I found about synesthesia, it's been bugging me why those colors? And I haven't come across a theory about it. But one thing I know is that the alphabet was one of the first things I learned and memorized. This suggest that there is some mechanism that allowed colors to permanently hitch a ride on letters.

There is another thing I remember, but I didn't want to say before because it could be too compelling. In the grade school there was a giant chart in classroom with four flamboyant geometrical shapes: green rectangle, blue square, red triangle, and a yellow circle. Well, guess what I perceive the synasthesia colors for these shapes? A rectangle is green, square is blue, and a triangle is redish, but circle is different. A circle is a bright white, same as letter 'c' the first letter for "circle."

And so, I suspect the colors of these first three shapes came from that chart I have been exposed to.

But once again, this is a just an introspective analysis based on memories I have from the past. I acknowledge it's not a double blind experiment.

Maybe our plastic brains have ways of "imprinting" these wandering neurological pathways, better yet, since as Merzenich's describes in his research, that brain maps change every couple of weeks, this fact is now beyond a shadow of doubt based on competition for valuable neurological "real estate", that nagging question that keeps driving my curiosity, is that some deeper yet unidentified QM and electromagnetic principle is at work here.
Perhaps in form of chaos, fractals, and wave interference there is some resemblance. I haven't read Merzenich, so perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't think there is any direct relationship between the lower level description of reality, and the higher level vast network of interconnected neurons in the brain.

It drives me nuts, I feel like an ant on a log and unable to truly "step back" and get the big picture based on more fundamental principles. It makes me that much more determined than ever, and with a bit of OCD in my makeup, it helps, hehe. I will not quit, but keep exploring uncharted avenues and dark alleys looking for clues.
Me as well. One thing I've devoted my whole life to is to learn and find out more about the world. I think that's what makes it fun.

Waht, did you get chills when you realized this ?
Not as much as about synesthesia. That was fun to find to out.

waht
kchiki
#299
Nov27-10, 07:42 PM
P: 5
That's very interesting, waht! I have what I consider a large amount of yellow in my graphemes and weekdays as well. I have 5 letters of various shades of yellow, 3 numbers and 2 weekdays. None of them are exactly the same shade. I'm going to have to think back and try to remember if I have any early associations with any of my colors.

I asked my son this morning out of curiosity, "What color is 'A'?" He thought for a few seconds and said "Green."

I said, "A is green?" He said, "Yeah!...No, F!!"

I said, "F is green?" and he said, "Yeah!" with a smile.

I said, "What color is 'O'?" Again, he thought and said, "Blue." I said, "O is blue?" andhe said, "Yeah."

I wrote them down to keep track but he's not quite 3 and I don't want him to feel like I'm quizzing him. I want to approach it as non-chalantly as possible.

His bedroom has 2 light blue walls and 2 light green walls, but we were in the livingroom at the time. The livingroom is full of earthy tones and reds.

Still too early to tell if he is synesthetic from so few questions but it's intriguing to think about.

Has anyone here mapped out their graphemes/colors? I mapped mine out in Photoshop before I did the battery on synesthete.org.

Oh, quick anecdote, heh. My friend who associates colors as much as I do sent me her weekdays to compare and we realized we share a common color for Saturday. She laughed and said "We should both wear that color on Saturday!" however, she lives in Australia and I live in Florida, U.S., so I had to ask "Your Saturday or mine??" Heh.
fuzzyfelt
#300
Nov28-10, 11:26 AM
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Thanks for the feedback, kchiki, and that your vivid childhood memories are really interesting, thanks, waht. Also thanks, rhody, for mentioning the musical chills thread, I forgot to say so sooner.
rhody
#301
Nov28-10, 03:24 PM
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I wanted to make an observation, small that it may be, Kiichi, you are the third or fourth person since this thread started back in April of this year to add input to it, for which we all are grateful, the last few folks sent me private message and gave me permission to post their experiences with synesthesia.

I hope this trend continues, and second that you stay and become a regular here, there is interesting stuff always going on, and the best Mentors/homework helpers and staff are here as well. A great resource for a growing family too. Enough said.

Rhody...
rhody
#302
Jun23-11, 03:37 PM
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A nice addition: an autistic savant, who has multiple forms of synesthesia, from: where else,
TED, June 2011. I hope you like it: Daniel Tammet: Different ways of knowing

Rhody...
BWV
#303
Feb2-12, 09:21 AM
P: 328
Does not look like anyone has mentioned Olivier Messiaen, perhaps the most famous synaesthesic musicians. He was a 20th century French composer whose condition became a key part of his approach to harmony



http://www.pauldworak.net/publicatio...per_dworak.pdf
rhody
#304
Mar30-12, 01:17 PM
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Quote Quote by rhody View Post
Holy .... !!!

I was looking at a web page in deep blue, almost purple background here, with white lettering:

Guess what I saw: partial grapheme -> color synesthesia for letters:

lower case: n,d,h,p,u,f,t,g,n light green
lower case: l,i,o,e,1,8 light pink

Holy crap !!! If I rapidly open, close and strobe my eyes, more than 3 times a second, the effect goes away and the letters are pure white !!!

Woo hoo... now I know what partial grapheme -> color associative synesthesia feels and looks like.
I swear to God, I am shaking as I type this. I can't freaking believe it. By sheer chance, in a search for a missing scientist of all things, thanks, Dr Li, I hope you are alright and they find you intact somewhere.

Rhody...

P.S. RasalHague, do some 3 to 5 second stobing with your eyes, both, left only, right only, and let me know what you see, just for comparison.
Now that I know my form of synesthesia only manifests with dark/blue/purple background, try my page as well with white lettering and let me know what you see.
Another Holy Crap moment, today while reading this thread, "why context sensitive advertising works", I discovered I have a second color grapheme combination that does not display its true colors, Inside the light and darker yellow/green text in the two boxes, the circle in every letter, b,d,g,o,0, P, 9, appears as off white, brighter in the darker inner box than the outer one. The size of the circle inside the letter or number seems to be the trigger. The letters, e, a, and C don't show off white because they are too small or not closed and are not circles. I thought I only had one frequency band of partial color grapheme synesthesia. I was wrong. I have at least two, very weird. I showed the other thread screen to another person in the office, he assured me that all the letters i mentioned are yellow/green. I find this odd and a bit surprising. I guess I shouldn't be by now. Those two backgrounds and choice of fonts are new to me. I guess because the background colors are not pleasing to the eye that they are not used that often.

The though occurs to me, will ovals or slightly misshapened circles do the same thing, even including large letters, or is their some limit to this ? I will have to try to reproduce the RBG color scheme in a document and play with larger and different font sets.

Rhody...
Whovian
#305
Mar30-12, 01:20 PM
P: 642
Wait. So how did you know that I perceive numbers as associated with different levels of light? :)
Evo
#306
Mar30-12, 01:22 PM
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Quote Quote by rhody View Post
Another Holy Crap moment, today while reading this thread, "why context sensitive advertising works", I discovered I have a second color grapheme combination that does not display its true colors, Inside the light and darker yellow/green text in the two boxes, the circle in every letter, b,d,g,o,0, P, 9, appears as off white, brighter in the darker inner box than the outer one. The size of the circle inside the letter or number seems to be the trigger. The letters, e, a, and C don't show off white because they are too small or not closed and are not circles. I thought I only had one frequency band of partial color grapheme synesthesia. I was wrong. I have at least two, very weird. I showed the other thread screen to another person in the office, he assured me that all the letters i mentioned are yellow/green. I find this odd and a bit surprising. I guess I shouldn't be by now. Those two backgrounds and choice of fonts are new to me. I guess because the background colors are not pleasing to the eye that they are not used that often.

The though occurs to me, will ovals or slightly misshapened circles do the same thing, even including large letters, or is their some limit to this ? I will have to try to reproduce the RBG color scheme in a document and play with larger and different font sets.

Rhody...

Rhody...
Both Evo Child and I see the same thing Rhody, I'll bet most everyone does. it may be your co-worker that has a problem.


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