By Keira Flowers
“The production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.”
Do you ever feel like a certain month goes with the perfect color? In my case, for no reason at all, August just screams yellow or orange for me. Or have you ever looked at a person and associated them with an aura, or color? I usually connect their favorite color to their appearance, I think it fits them very well. In these cases, it’s called ‘Synesthesia’ and in simpler terms, it’s when you see sounds, taste words, hear colors, etc.
In a lot of other people’s cases, it is a lot more extreme than what I just explained. Being very rare in adulthood, about 4% of the population has this. If you really think about it, everyone has a tiny bit of synesthesia in them. It is nothing like an illness or something someone should be worried about, experiencing this is rather a new way of experiencing life with multiple senses working together, think of it more as a trait. Studies have shown that synesthesia is often inherited, coming from another family member that might’ve had a different type of case, a lot of the time the child might associate the color or letter to be something different. For example, if the mother thinks a triangle is yellow, the child will think it is more red. In this case, the mother did not teach the child any of this; they simply identified the triangle to be red.
A lot of people used to think that people with this could have been rooted from possibly a childhood memory. For example: having a childhood toy that displayed different letters as colors. So automatically, people that have this might now connect the color with the letter because of this experience. But this is not the case, because synesthesia is not voluntary. It comes to them without any thought what that color, or taste might be. It is also not like they can change their answers around. Whatever they might be binding together, it will always stay the same. If they associate a square to be the color green, they won’t suddenly change their answer another day and say red. It always stays the same in their brain. Also, a person with this will usually remember the color first, then equate per say, the name, right after.
This has also shown to be a very emotional experience for some. If they bind the Miley Cyrus song “Flowers” with the smell of cardboard, then they could have an outwards reaction. None of this interferes with their day-to-day lives, but as I do my research and learn more about this topic, I can’t but help and wonder what it might be like to have something like this. Keep in mind that people with this- let’s say you are talking- they will not only hear your voice, they will see it, taste it, feel it, smell it (ew?), etc.
In a lot of people’s cases, they use synesthesia as a helping tool with their music. So, when trying to copy or replicate a certain beat or song they enjoy, they will visualize it in their brain into little shapes or lines which would help them play out the music in a simpler way, because they are visualizing it. Or some people use this with math! A professor saw his equations as colors, and he wanted to portray them to his students to make things easier. This may be why some teachers like us to color code our notes, even when it might not make sense to us because it’s just more work.
Some fun facts! Pharrell Williams, the man who made the song “Happy” a few years back has Synesthesia! As well as Billie Eilish, Charli XCX, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Beyonce, and many more!