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  • Imagine a world

  • in which you see numbers and letters as colored

  • even though they're printed in black,

  • in which music or voices trigger a swirl

  • of moving, colored shapes,

  • in which words and names fill your mouth

  • with unusual flavors.

  • Jail tastes like cold, hard bacon

  • while Derek tastes like earwax.

  • Welcome to synesthesia,

  • the neurological phenomenon

  • that couples two or more senses in 4% of the population.

  • A synesthete might not only hear my voice,

  • but also see it,

  • taste it,

  • or feel it as a physical touch.

  • Sharing the same root with anesthesia,

  • meaning no sensation,

  • synesthesia means joined sensation.

  • Having one type, such as colored hearing,

  • gives you a 50% chance of having a second,

  • third,

  • or fourth type.

  • One in 90 among us experience graphemes,

  • the written elements of language,

  • like letters,

  • numerals,

  • and punctuation marks,

  • as saturated with color.

  • Some even have gender or personality.

  • For Gail, 3 is athletic and sporty,

  • 9 is a vain, elitist girl.

  • By contrast, the sound units of language,

  • or phonemes,

  • trigger synthetic tastes.

  • For James, college tastes like sausage,

  • as does message and similar words

  • with the -age ending.

  • Synesthesia is a trait, like having blue eyes,

  • rather than a disorder

  • because there's nothing wrong.

  • In fact, all the extra hooks

  • endow synesthetes with superior memories.

  • For example, a girl runs into someone she met long ago.

  • "Let's see, she had a green name.

  • D's are green:

  • Debra,

  • Darby,

  • Dorothy,

  • Denise.

  • Yes! Her name is Denise!"

  • Once established in childhood,

  • pairings remain fixed for life.

  • Synesthetes inherit a biological propensity

  • for hyperconnecting brain neurons,

  • but then must be exposed to cultural artifacts,

  • such as calendars,

  • food names,

  • and alphabets.

  • The amazing thing is that a single nucleotide change

  • in the sequence of one's DNA alters perception.

  • In this way, synesthesia provides a path

  • to understanding subjective differences,

  • how two people can see the same thing differently.

  • Take Sean, who prefers blue tasting food,

  • such as milk, oranges, and spinach.

  • The gene heightens normally occurring connections

  • between the taste area in his frontal lobe

  • and the color area further back.

  • But suppose in someone else

  • that the gene acted in non-sensory areas.

  • You would then have the ability to link

  • seemingly unrelated things,

  • which is the definition of metaphor,

  • seeing the similar in the dissimilar.

  • Not surprisingly, synesthesia is more common

  • in artists who excel at making metaphors,

  • like novelist Vladimir Nabokov,

  • painter David Hockney,

  • and composers Billy Joel

  • and Lady Gaga.

  • But why do the rest of us non-synesthetes

  • understand metaphors like "sharp cheese"

  • or "sweet person"?

  • It so happens that sight,

  • sound,

  • and movement

  • already map to one another so closely,

  • that even bad ventriloquists convince us

  • that the dummy is talking.

  • Movies, likewise, can convince us

  • that the sound is coming from the actors' mouths

  • rather than surrounding speakers.

  • So, inwardly, we're all synesthetes,

  • outwardly unaware of the perceptual couplings

  • happening all the time.

  • Cross-talk in the brain is the rule,

  • not the exception.

  • And that sounds like a sweet deal to me!

Imagine a world

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【TED-Ed】星期二是什麼顏色的?探索聯覺的世界 - Richard E. Cytowic What color is Tuesday? Exploring synesthesia

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    Zenn 發佈於 2013 年 09 月 15 日
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