Do you see coloured images if you listen to music?


by Edgardo
Tags: coloured, images, listen, music, synaesthesia
zoobyshoe
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#19
Jul9-05, 11:25 PM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear
This is the part that puzzles me the most about synesthesia; if you always see colors with your numbers, how do you come to the awareness that the color isn't a normal thing that everyone else sees with that number?
I have never heard of the number-color connection before, but Cytowic discusses people who have a sound- color crossover quite a bit in his book. They see abstract shapes of distinct colors superimposed on their visual field in response to sounds. The colors and shapes come to match the types of sound. Listening to music is accompanied by a corresponding "light show". Many synesthetes have claimed Mozart gives the prettiest concomitant "light show" of all composers, for whatever that's worth.

Most synesthetes have no idea that everyone else doesn't see the same way untill they try to discuss the colors with someone directly. Most of them, according to Cytowic, learn before they get out of grade school that they are alone in this, and have to hide the fact or be told they're crazy or lying. Some end up being taken to psychiatrists.

He estimated there are about a million people with synesthesia in the US (that would be early 1990s). and that most of them were "underground"; not daring to tell even their closest friends and associates.
Moonbear
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Jul10-05, 12:07 AM
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Thanks Zooby. I was just using the color/numbers example because it was mentioned a few times in this thread, not because it was important to my question that it be that specific example. I realize there are many ways the different senses can be combined all under the collective heading of synesthesia.

Yes, I can understand the difficulty in admitting to experiencing synesthesia to someone who has never heard of it. It must be incredibly difficult for them, especially as children.

Does it in any way hinder early childhood learning? I mean, we teach children things like numbers and colors by pointing and saying a name. If we point to something red and say "red," but then when they hear music and also see red, we say, "music," does that make it harder to learn their colors? Would an early sign of it be inappropriate responses to questions about colors or shapes? If you point to a rectangle and they say "red" every time, might it be time to have them evaluated?
zoobyshoe
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Jul10-05, 03:21 AM
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Cytowic's book, the only one I've read about this, gives the strong impression that it never constitutes a "disability" of any kind. The main problem it causes is interpersonal alienation. As far as I know the sort of problem you are speculating about never actually arises: the synesthete always realizes the difference between the rectangularity of a rectangle and whatever color might accompany it.

The case of the color blind person who could see red synesthetically is very unusual and must have been quite tricky to sort out. I am also not sure how they could acertain he was actually seeng anything corresponding to what everyone else sees as red, but there may well be a way to do it.

Edit: I've just been looking at the Cytowic paper Astronuc linked to and find the following:

"10.8 Learning disabilities seem more common in synesthetes and their first-degree relatives. What is the actual incidence of autism, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder (ADD) among synesthetes? Do synesthetes themselves so afflicted differ from other synesthetes?"

(I think he is raising those questions as ones that need study, not as ones he is prepared to answer.) The point, though, is that it seems many synesthetes also have major learning disabilities. The synesthesia, itself, however, does not seem to cause undo learning difficulties.
hypnagogue
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#22
Jul15-05, 12:15 AM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear
Does it seem just as strange to them that other people don't see colors with their numbers as it seems to the rest of us that they do see them together?
Apparently, although synaesthetes come to recognize that their synaesthetic experiences are idiosyncratic, they are still struck by the conviction that what they experience is in some sense the real or correct way to experience things. e.g.:

"That's another part of the synesthetic experience that's hard to communicate in a compelling way -- the feeling that *my* colors are right and other people's are wrong. It's not self-righteousness; it's much less elaborated than that. The sensation, almost of outrage, comes out of me like a little yelp when Carol tells me she likes my name because the 'k' is green. Green?! No way! It's *lavender*!"

http://web.mit.edu/synesthesia/www/colordemo.html

Quote Quote by Moonbear
I'm wondering one other thing; if I type numbers in different colors, what does the synasthete see? Can you see both the color you normally associate with the number and the color I've written it in, or does it somehow make it confusing or hard to read the numbers if they are in color?
I don't have a link handy, but I recall reading an account from at least one synaesthete who claims that he (?) can discern a printed number's 'actual' color, even if it's different from the color he tends to perceive synaesthetically. He compares it to watching a black and white movie-- even though we see the movie in greyscale, we still pick up on what the colors are 'supposed' to be.

And the experience of seeing numbers and letters as being particular colors doesn't seem to be as straightforward or stable as e.g. seeing a red '3' would be for a non-synaesthete. For instance, in the above link, the author claims that she needs to focus her attention on a particular number or letter for its synaesthetic color to emerge more clearly. So perhaps the actual color of the number or letter appears outside of foveal focus, or perhaps it's easier to discern on a quick glance, etc.

As for interference effects, this is explored briefly in the 'Brainman' program about Daniel Tammet. Tammet experiences particularly strong and varied synaesthetic phenomena. One aspect of his experience of numbers is that 9 appears very large to him, and (I believe) 0 appears small. So V.S. Ramachandran had him perform some tasks where he had to memorize a page of numbers to explore this claim of his. On the first trial, the printed sizes of the numbers agreed with Tammet's synaesthetic perceptions-- the 9s were printed very large, the 0s very small, etc. On the second trial, the situation was inverted-- the 9s were printed very small, the 0s very large. Sure enough, he performed excellently on the first trial, but was thrown for a bit of a loop on the second trial and performed significantly more poorly.
zoobyshoe
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#23
Jul15-05, 12:41 AM
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Quote Quote by hypnagogue
Apparently, although synaesthetes come to recognize that their synaesthetic experiences are idiosyncratic, they are still struck by the conviction that what they experience is in some sense the real or correct way to experience things. e.g.:

"That's another part of the synesthetic experience that's hard to communicate in a compelling way -- the feeling that *my* colors are right and other people's are wrong. It's not self-righteousness; it's much less elaborated than that. The sensation, almost of outrage, comes out of me like a little yelp when Carol tells me she likes my name because the 'k' is green. Green?! No way! It's *lavender*!"
Cytowic comments on this:

"4.14 Synesthesia is emotional. The experience is accompanied by a sense of certitude (the "this is it" feeling) and a conviction that what the synesthetes percieve is real and valid."

The lifelong matching of internally generated colors to external things is how color vision works in us all anyway, and it isn't really any wonder that a synesthete has this kind of certitude, because we all do. As long as their colors are consistant over time, which Cytowic says all synesthetc experiences always are, then the person can integrate them seemlessly with the other senses and they become of great practical use.
Moonbear
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Aug16-06, 08:36 PM
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I don't know if it will be any good, but ABC's Primetime: Medical Mysteries tonight is supposed to include a bit about synesthesia if anyone is interested in seeing more about it. It's on at 10 pm EDT. Check your local TV listings (I know, it's short notice, I just found out the channel and time...someone else mentioned it to me today, but I didn't catch details of which show it was though I thought of this thread to share it with everyone).
Rade
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Aug16-06, 10:38 PM
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From interview with daughter (age 17 at time) that claims synesthesia ( was very surprised that everyone does not view things this way when I asked her about the topic): #0= white, #1 = black, #2 = orange, #3 = yellow, #4 =type of green, #5=type of green, #6= red, #7 = blue, #8 = brown, # 9 = purple. Thus using [roygbiv] we get number sequence related to wave frequency [6,2,3,4-5,7,9]. She claims these colors for shapes rectangle = green, heart = purple, small cloud = brown, vortex = black, square = red, triangle = yellow, circle = blue. Finally, she claims that all keys on the piano "produce a different color of light" as she plays. It has been suggested that folks with synesthesia effects have perception that bypass the limbic system and thus interacts directly with cortex unfiltered (e.g. area of consciousness). Since limbic system is where we filter perception, and thus where we give value, purpose, desire, etc. perhaps one can say that those with synesthesia are more "objective" in their view of reality than the rest of us--just a thought--interesting subject. Recall that limbic system is first evolved with the mammals, thus perhaps all priori species (birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, etc) all show synesthesia abilities--does anyone conduct such research--the synesthesia of animals ?
Moonbear
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Aug16-06, 11:19 PM
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I found it interesting to actually see illustrations of what they see. In the story, they showed some young women who were developing a virtual reality version of how they see dates spatially to help others understand what they perceive.

The only one that didn't strike me as particularly unusual was the one who described blue cheese as "pointy." I would describe it as sharp, as would most other cheese eaters. What's the difference between sharp and pointy? That actually got me to wondering if it's just an extreme of something all of us already do to some extent when we try to relate our sensory experiences to others. How is it that we understand what a "sharp" taste is? And it seems interesting that the synaesthete chose a property that was similar in "texture." We describe tastes as sharp and smooth all the time. Likewise, one might describe a musical tone as rounded. To some extent, it seems we all use terminology that crosses sensory "boundaries," so where did we get this terminology from? Does the synaesthete just take it to a more extreme degree than the rest of us do in our every day description of things we sense?
Mickey
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#27
Aug17-06, 04:17 AM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear
I found it interesting to actually see illustrations of what they see. In the story, they showed some young women who were developing a virtual reality version of how they see dates spatially to help others understand what they perceive.
Seeing dates spatially is synethesia? I do this! I think of a big circular path of months, made up of a winding path of weeks, and each month is colored with its own sort of images associated with seasons and events. I suppose New Year's is around "12 o'clock," on this path, but I actually feel like the solstices are more fixed and "weighted," for a number of reasons. 1) Christmas near the winter solstice and my birthday near the summer solstice 2) the natural changes in the length of a day 3) the changing angles of the light from the sun, and 4) having off of school! So this circle is tilted on an axis that goes through the solstices.

I find number 3 the most beautiful. The sun shines more from the south in the winter and more directly overhead in summer. Throughout my life, I have had really amazing dreams where nothing is out of the ordinary except the sun shining from the south in the summer. That's the quintessentially "dreamy feeling" for me, light from the south when it's warm and summery. It's one of the most beautiful experiences I can think of. The thought that it's not possible is really kind of depressing. But, every now and then there might be a morning in the winter that isn't too cold, with no snow or wind, and no leaves on the trees, so that I can feel a little bit of warmth while watching the sun make long shadows of all the trees and their branches pointing northward. It's so beautiful! I've always felt bad that no one else seems to think so.

I see ages spatially too, like a number line that bends through youth and then starts wrapping around in tens after the onset of the twenties.

I also see a wrapping number line when I do mental arithmetic on numbers larger than 10. The digit in the tens place tells me how many lines to move "up" and the ones spot tell me how many to move "around" or "through."

I never talk about these things, so I don't know if they're unusual. Are these kinds of things synesthetic? I don't hear colors or anything like that, so I never thought that this applied to me, but I definitely see numbers in a space. Even whole numbers alone are like spaces, filled with fractions and real numbers that go onwards until they meet with the next whole number and continue on into the infinite number space.

The way mathematicians use the word "number space" drives me absolutely bananas, because I want to think that they're talking about what I see, but I don't see how they could be. And the way they use the word "ring," ... I find it so deeply wrong, even offensive, like a totally unacceptable kind of sloppiness, their using spatial vocabulary for numbers so carelessly. I get upset just thinking about it!

the only one that didn't strike me as particularly unusual was the one who described blue cheese as "pointy." I would describe it as sharp, as would most other cheese eaters. What's the difference between sharp and pointy? That actually got me to wondering if it's just an extreme of something all of us already do to some extent when we try to relate our sensory experiences to others. How is it that we understand what a "sharp" taste is? And it seems interesting that the synaesthete chose a property that was similar in "texture." We describe tastes as sharp and smooth all the time. Likewise, one might describe a musical tone as rounded. To some extent, it seems we all use terminology that crosses sensory "boundaries," so where did we get this terminology from? Does the synaesthete just take it to a more extreme degree than the rest of us do in our every day description of things we sense?
I think it may have something to do with the role of degree in perception, and how the brain tries to make sense of the world by relating perceptual events to one another by relating their degrees. When you think about it, "sharpness" can be a wave pattern applicable to a number of different sensory phenomena. High frequency (energy) short duration perceptual events, like a very quick tap on a high piano key, a very quick taste of densely flavored concentrate, a short flash of light, might all be considered sharp sensory phenomena, related to the high pain quick duration of a pin prick through this seemingly common wave pattern.
Mickey
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#28
Aug17-06, 07:23 AM
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After some searching, I found that the term for what I probably have is "number form synaesthesia."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_form

There aren't as many studies on it, because researchers have not found a way to objectively measure its existence. One proposal is to measure Stroop effects, like whether numbers that are close in a person's number space but further in value register faster than numbers that are far in both. That study won't detect much from me, I'd think, because, even though my number form appears to bend back around near itself from a certain perspective, my number space isn't a Euclidean 2-space.

Mine has notions of depth, like a road with many degrees of freedom, that makes number space an experience. Think of a board game, like Shoots and Ladders (ignoring the shoots and ladders), that just has a numbered grid for spaces. When you reach the end of one row, how does your piece get to the beginning of the next row? You pick up it up off the grid and move it there. Not for me. I can have the picture of a grid of numbers but at the same time have the perception of continuous and undifferentiated movement through the number spaces. It may not seem possible to imagine something like that and, Indeed, I'm not sure I can think this way about actual objects, since I have not seen any that would have such a physical geometry. I can only think this about numbers, because that's what numbers are. So I can only rationalize it by also saying that I have many degrees of freedom in my number space, but how could numbers exist otherwise?

It sounds kind of strange when I think about it, but I really don't think about this stuff. It's just natural for me to think that numbers are seamlessly connected in what vaguely resembles a disconnected Euclidean 2-structure.

Some real number functions are not analytic with normal methods of calculus, but are actually complex analytic. My number form is necessarily analytic, or else it would not include all the numbers. So what I'm talking about could be analogous to that relationship, also.
Maaneli
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#29
Aug20-06, 06:02 PM
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I also have synaesthesia. It consists of seeing numbers in colors and tasting shapes. In high school my AP Psychology teacher asked me to visit all his psychology classes so that students could ask me questions about my synaesthetic sensations. I was quite surprised at how complex some of my answers to student questions could be. I think the phenomenology of synaesthesia would be quite a rich field of study for philosophy!
somasimple
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#30
Aug21-06, 11:46 PM
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Hi All,

Try to google ramachandran
and read this topic
http://www.somasimple.com/forums/showthread.php?t=50

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Anomy
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#31
Nov16-10, 04:28 AM
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I have synesthesia. Sounds translate to colored shapes with texture and movement. The shapes seem really random to others, but I've had this condition my entire life. It seems totally normal to me. Sometimes (rarely) my other senses will cause similar colored shapes, but this only happens when I am being mentally impaired by something like a hallucinogenic sleeping pill.

I'm female, I'm ambidextrous, I have a horrible sense of direction, I am fantastic at maths... All traits of synesthesia except for the maths bit. I'm only good at that because I'm similar to the aforementioned savant, Daniel, though I'm not nearly so gifted. I see numbers as shapes that move. They have colors like metals, with the traits of elemental metals. They stretch, melt, bend, change color (sometimes not like metals), change texture, etc when I do maths. They often pinch off into pieces, much like an organism dividing cells. All numbers are made of their greatest prime factors morphed into something resembling a strange molecule. The molecular bonds that hold one number together are multiplication. For some reason, I never use any prime factor greater than 7. Numbers made up of prime factors greater than 7, like 26, sort of confuse me. I could try to dream up some shape for 13, but I can't do that any more than you can dream up a color that doesn't exist. 26 looks like 25 + 1 to me. The + 1 is attached by an addition bond, which just means that the 1 shape sort of hovers to the side of the 25. Some numbers just look strange to me, so I don't like them.

People seem to think that synesthesia is the best thing ever. In many ways, it is. I have perfect pitch, and can memorize things I hear very easily, especially if I say them myself. My own voice is preferred because if I need to repeat something, I can do it in the exact same pitch so that I see the same thing. One way that synesthesia isn't awesome? If something is repeated in many different ways, I will get confused. Additionally, many sounds which normally do not annoy people drive me mad. For instance, most sounds made by cardboard and styrofoam make me feel absolutely horrible. I have to go clear them out of my mind by hitting two pieces of metal together. Making glass or crystal resonate is particularly effective, but I think carrying around crystal stemware would seem even more insane than cringing or shuddering when someone opens a box the wrong way.
rhody
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#32
Nov19-10, 03:59 PM
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Anomy,

You may not be aware, but there is another newer thread on: Synesthesia (with correct spelling) here in the Medical Sciences forum. Over 17000 hits and 400 replies, there is a wealth of information here, along with some surprising new discoveries by fellow PF members. Take a look and decide for yourself. Have fun, lots of interesting reports on a new form of synesthesia that to the best of my knowledge has not been categorized yet.

Rhody...
Anomy
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#33
Nov20-10, 10:47 AM
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Ah, thank you for pointing that out. I actually found this thread while googling some things I heard in my psychology class.
fuzzyfelt
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#34
Nov20-10, 11:13 AM
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Quote Quote by rhody View Post

(with correct spelling)
Not with my spell check :)
fuzzyfelt
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#35
Nov21-10, 09:55 AM
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http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=synaesthesia


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