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The Colors of the Alphabet

April 27th, 2013 6 comments

Imagine that you could taste sounds.  If you were lucky, your name would be delicious—every time someone said it you might taste that one fruit smoothie you love or a fresh-baked cookie.  Each word would be like sampling a new flavor, for better or worse.  This is a form of synesthesia, a condition in which one sense activates a separate sense.  Color-grapheme synesthesia seems more believable to most people.  Due to this condition, about 5% of the world’s population sees numbers and letters as inherently colored, even if they are printed in black.  This can actually improve performance on some tasks, such as a visual search.  The left half of the picture below shows the vision of a normal individual; the right half shows that of an individual with synesthesia.  As you can see, it is much easier to find the 2’s for an individual with synesthesia.

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