Synesthesia is a neurologically based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway1,2,3,4. One person out of every thousand has synaesthesia & surprisingly, there are people who can smell sounds, see smells or hear colors5.
The most common types of synesthesia are:
Grapheme/Colour Synesthesia: The most common form, where letters & numbers are shaded with different colours
Sound/Colour Synesthesia: Environmental sounds, voices & music are perceived as fireworks & colour shapes
Number Form Synesthesia: A mental map or vision is perceived when thinking of numbers
Personification Synesthesia: Ordinal numbers, days & months have personalities
Lexical/Gustatory Synesthesia: Words & sentences produce taste sensations
It is clear that the world would be quite a different place if our perception was transformed by any of the types of synesthesia. The food & beverage industry would be forced to completely change. Imagine if a large percentage of the world population could smell sounds? Products would always be marketed utilizing very evident music or sounds, while restaurants would strategically play certain kinds of music that could possibly pair up with the dishes offered. Nevertheless, it would be a complicated world. Could we possibly gain weight by simply listening to music? Or could we possibly be over-stimulated in a world already blanketed with different smells & sounds?
1. Cytowic, Richard E. (2002). Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses (2nd edition). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-03296-1. OCLC 49395033
2. Cytowic, Richard E. (2003). The Man Who Tasted Shapes. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-53255-7. OCLC 53186027.
3. Cytowic, Richard E; Eagleman, David M (2009). Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia (with an afterword by Dmitri Nabokov). Cambridge: MIT Press. pp. 309. ISBN 0-262-01279-9.
4. Harrison, John E.; Simon Baron-Cohen (1996). Synaesthesia: classic and contemporary readings. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-19764-8. OCLC 59664610