Thursday, 16 February 2012

Synesthesia

Synesthesia is an interesting phenomenon that I discovered while watching a talk on TED by the neuroscientist V.S Ramachandran. It's when people have this amazing ability to make strange associations between seemingly unrelated concepts like sound and colour or numbers and shapes.



Toward the end of this video there is an interesting demonstration of something called the Bouba/Kiki effect.

Two Blobs
The effect is seen in an experiment where a large number of people are shown this image (separately of course) and asked to assign the name Bouba and Kiki to any of the shapes. More that 90% of the people name the shape on the left as Kiki and the one on the right as Bouba. This shows a kind of shape-sound synesthesia that is present in all of us. 

I've also been thinking about how this seems to be a learned skill. A person does not learn how to read or count without being taught. And since synesthesia occurs in learned symbols, I think it is to some extent learnable. I think it might be possible to learn to be synesthetic.

So I am going to do an experiment on myself. Since I do a lot of reading online I am going to try and create a script which assigns every letter and number on the page a colour but first I've got to find out if such a script is even possible. 


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