An Eyeful of Sound – Discussion About Synesthesia

RiAus Film Club: An Eyeful of Sound – Discussion about synesthesia from RiAus on Vimeo.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • Cuttlefish

    I had a student last semester, for whom each number had a color. Helped some times, hurt in others. Mostly, fascinated her classmates.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      I was interviewed by someone who had the condition – apparently my name is akin to “watercress”. Not sure if that’s a compliment or not…

  • Suido

    I’m interested in whether this may be neurally similar to some aspects of the autism spectrum.

    Anecdotally only, I know of a boy with Asperger’s who associates numbers with images/feelings, eg 9 evokes big for him, as it is the largest numeral. In order to do maths in his head, he combines the different imageries of the numbers, and the resulting image is the answer. Blows my mind that the mind can work like that.

    On a lighter note, QI.

  • rowanvt

    Mom and I appear to either have a mild mirror-touch synesthesia or an extreme ability to project sensation. When Mom sees someone being touched, she feels the contact. I’m the opposite. When I see someone doing something, I feel the sensations as if I were the one doing it. Both of us can ‘generate’ tactile sensations of objects at will.

    It makes learning by watching pretty easy because my body already has the basic idea of what to do.

  • Jennifer, Uppity Bitch and General Malcontent

    As a sound-to-texture, phoneme-to-color, name-of-note-to-color (it took me years to figure out that, say, it is the concept of F# that is teal rather than the actual pitch) synesthete, I love any discussion of this topic. I also notice that there seem to be more of us than previously thought, and we’re coming right out of the woodwork as we find out that we’re not alone and not “mentally ill.”

    I am not spectrum, but I am ADHD, and so are the other synesthetes I’ve known, and I wonder what the “comorbidity” rate is with other “disorders.” (I say all of that because I’ve seen synesthesia categorized as mental illness, but it’s not; my ADHD, on the other hand, definitely is. That being said, both strongly impact the way that I experience the world in ways that I would not trade for being neurotypical.)

    Thank you!

  • Winterwind

    I can’t do it any more, but when I was young (<6), I think I may have almost had syesthesia or something like it. I remember associating words with images and colours that had nothing to do with them. For example, "Yes" sounded like a pale blue, blurry, snowy forest of trees. "No" conjured the image of the same forest, but orangey-red in colour. The phenomenon faded away as I grew older.

    I still don't know if it was just a product of a vivid imagination, or something unusual.