Synesthesia is defined as an involuntary physical experience of a cross-modal association. In real language that means that there is a crossing of the senses. Having one sense stimulated would cause a stimulation in another sense as well. This would be like a ringing bell being heard and seen(maybe as a flash of light).
It comes from Greek with syn meaning together and aisthesis, perception. So, literally it is a joining of sensations.
There are five main diagnostic features of synesthesia, as defined by Cytowic:
- the sensations are involuntary: they can not be surpressed or incurred, though the intensity is influenced by the situation they occur in
- the sensations are projected into the environment: it is not just in the head but the person actually sees a sound or hears a picture, etc.
- the sensations are durable and generic: every time you hear a bell you always see red, it doesn't change over time or situation and will always be experienced with the stimulus
- the sensations are memorable: they are often the aspect of something that is remembered best. For example it may be easier to remember that a person's name is yellow than the name, although the color helps to recall the name
- the sensations are emotional: having this experience causes ecstasy and is viewed as an accomplishment
WHO HAS IT???
- one in every 25,000 people born have synesthesia, but this estimate is thought to be low
- studies done in the United States show that three times as many women as men have synesthesia
- Studies from UK reveal that eight times as many women as men are affected
- it appears more frequently among left-handed people
- the synesthetic experience is different for every individual. For example, among people who see letters as colored, there is not a set color for each letter from person to person. Everyone has their own colored alphabet.