home
RSS
On the Brain: When numbers have color: Synesthesia
November 17th, 2010
11:49 AM ET

On the Brain: When numbers have color: Synesthesia

For a special 2 percent of the population, the world seems a little more surreal.

In a condition called synesthesia, there are extra connections among parts of the brain related to individual senses. The actual experience varies, but some say that numbers, letters, sounds or even faces appear to have colors associated with them that most people don't see. For some, it's just an association; others actually do think they see those colors. Here's how color vision works, by the way.

Now, scientists have new clues about how the brains of people with synesthesia give rise to these bizarre-seeming perceptions. Synesthesia expert V.S. Ramachandran of the University of California, San Diego, presented the findings this week in a  press conference at Neuroscience 2010, the Society for Neuroscience meeting.

Among the findings are that the hippocampus, a brain region essential for memory, has extra connections in people who say that certain numbers remind them of particular colors. In contrast, sensory areas of the brain show greater connectivity in those who believe that they are actually seeing these colors in the numbers. Thus, there are different neural mechanisms for these two kinds of synesthesia, finds Romke Rouw of the University of Amsterdam.

This study also found that people with synesthesia generally have more white matter, indicating increased connectivity, in the fusiform gyrus, a brain area involved in the processing color, numbers, letters and faces.

"It doesn't get any better in neuroscience, when you get a quirky, odd, crazy psychological phenomenon and actually pin it down to changes on wiring in the brain, based on genes," Ramachandran said.

Research presented by David Brang at the University of California, San Diego suggests that the synesthestic brain uses this increased connectivity to transfer information from one area to another. He and colleagues used magnetoencephalography, a method of recording neural activity. They showed that activity in the brains people with synesthesia flows from the visual areas to the visual processing areas in recognizing a number, and then to the brain's color area about five to 10 milliseconds later. This did not happen in participants who do not have the condition.

Ramachandran and colleagues have also identified a gene that appears to be involved in the condition. Although synesthesia does not necessarily make people more artistic, but it does seem to pop up among noted creative people; for example, novelist Vladimir Nabokov, physicist Richard Feynman and composer Franz Liszt. Ramachandran's theory is that, genetically, synesthesia has persisted throughout the centuries in humans because of its association with creativity.

Besides seeing colors where they wouldn't be otherwise, other reported effects of synesthesia are even more mysterious: For example, some associate numbers with "male" and "female."

Many parents of children with autism e-mail Ramachandran and Brang asking them about a link between autism and synesthesia, because their children appear to have sensory abnormalities resembling synesthesia. The link has not been scientifically proven, but Brang believes there still could be some connection.


soundoff (1,305 Responses)
  1. Sprinter Seat Fabric Repair

    I truly love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím wanting to create my own personal blog and want to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Appreciate it!

    https://blog.merlinox.com/wp-json/oembed/1.0/embed?url=http://carsonrvexperience.com

    June 29, 2021 at 01:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    http://www.rateplug.com/outway.asp?type=17&url=https://ocrv.today/

    June 29, 2021 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Repairs Near Me

    That is a very good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate infoÖ Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!

    http://jpxinteractive.info/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvmotorsports.biz

    June 29, 2021 at 04:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. qatar vs iraq

    Thẳng Bóng Đá Việt Nam Vs Lebanon. Xem Truc Tiep Bong Da. Futsal Việt NamvatvoĐây có lẽ rằng là ngôi trường hợp “của đi thay người" khá như ý đối cùng với Ben McLemore. Thiếu chút nữa tay ném của Los Angeles Lakers đã có thể gặp gỡ hiểm họa nghiêm trọng. Cập nhật kết trái trận Việt Nam vs Lebanon thuộc play-off vòng loại Futsal World Cup 2021.

    https://chiefscreolecafe.com/detail/xoi-lac-tv-truc-tiep-viet-nam-125770.html

    June 29, 2021 at 06:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Repair Near My Location

    http://tools.fedenet.gr/click.php?loadpage=http://ocrv.us/&i=Fy13kqfCRpV18+rzmB5Vj1KkXGkGGAWhIX3fVnUfV4Oa/FaCMIqJVPsjQooUCo+mk80DmnB6Me8YCZnos3e+Gp1988eyWfj8/nV9ACyovw==&e=hLRLEk1SqoBby50Iy68z555DZGT2h8DJB8D98ZmiN3Ig0wvtONY/BVvj6i2imi9OGTtuf6rewgukF5Q61OHrzI9v2p2Cv41uFFAHSSg3kvR+uVheJT2pkV59oPRoEA==&ui=17457803796498151631184838240327480509388683986

    June 29, 2021 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. wax pens

    What Is Dab Mat?https://www.posts123.com/user/812990/wirecancer78All products intended for use with legal smoking/vaping mixtures only .

    https://canvas.instructure.com/eportfolios/156893/brookslmki116/9_Signs_Youre_a_honey_straw_Expert

    June 29, 2021 at 07:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sprinter Van Alignment

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and don't seem to get anything done.

    https://joomluck.com/go/?http://rvmarketingexperts.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ae888

    Xem Trực Tiếp Viettel Vs Tỉnh Bình Dương Trên V League 2021 Ở Kênh Nào? soi cau kubetĐội tuyển chọn nước Việt Nam chỉ cần thiết một kết trái hòa có bàn thắng nhằm lần thứ hai góp mặt trên World Cup futsal. Nhưng, nhằm thực hiện được điều đó

    https://equinome.com/detail/ty-so-anh-32417.html

    June 29, 2021 at 08:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. link mới nhất ae888

    Heya outstanding website! Does running a blog such
    as this require a massive amount work? I have virtually no
    understanding of computer programming but I had been hoping
    to start my own blog soon. Anyhow, if you have any ideas or tips
    for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off topic
    however I just needed to ask. Cheers!

    June 29, 2021 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. vtv3 trực tiếp bóng đá

    Thẳng Soccer Việt Nam Vs Lebanon. Coi Truc Tiep Bong Da. Futsal Việt Namk+ pmXem đá bóng trực tuyến Trực tiếp Odd BK vs Sarpsborg, 20h ngày 24/5, giải VĐQG Na Uy. Xem lịch phát sóng thẳng đá bóng EURO hôm nay được Webthethao update chính xác nhất.

    https://virandoamor.com/detail/nhat-ban-vs-viet-nam-ben-nao-tot-hon-120993.html

    June 29, 2021 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Chevy Venture Van Repair

    Howdy! This blog post couldnít be written much better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I'll forward this article to him. Fairly certain he'll have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://adv.softplace.it/live/www/delivery/ck.php?ct=1&oaparams=2__bannerid=4439__zoneid=36__source=home4__cb=88ea725b0a__oadest=http://rvcollisionrepairpaintshop.com

    June 29, 2021 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Nearest RV Repair

    You're so interesting! I do not believe I've read through something like this before. So wonderful to discover another person with a few original thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!

    https://aurora.network/redirect?url=https://www.www.ocrv.vip

    June 29, 2021 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Rv Technician Shop Near Me

    https://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/ForceDesktopView?callingURL=https://www.ocrv.us/

    June 29, 2021 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. pharmaceptica.com

    erectile specialist https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Repair Orange County California

    http://no-smok.net/nsmk/InterWiki?action=goto&oe=EUC-KR&url=http://ocrvmotorsports.info

    June 29, 2021 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair Shop Near My Location

    Hi! I could have sworn Iíve visited this website before but after looking at many of the posts I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím certainly happy I found it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back often!

    http://manoeksportas.vz.lt/invitePage.do?id=309782144&url=http://ocrvcenter.info

    June 29, 2021 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. tiến lên miền nam

    Thẳng Soccer Ngày Hôm Nay, Link Coi Bóng Đá Trực Tuyến 24h fb88Đội tuyển futsal Việt Nam đã có được một trận đấu đồng ý được trước đối thủ cạnh tranh đầy mức độ mạnh Lebanon. Kết quả Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu vs Bình Phước thời điểm hôm nay 18h00 ngày 5/5, Hạng nhất nước ta.

    https://frontsportsbox.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Repair Near Me

    You are so cool! I don't suppose I've read anything like this before. So good to discover somebody with a few original thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a little originality!

    https://www.mapmyvisit.com/Link/1161/03AE9107CF463F500938466652FA781F/?r=https://ocrvmotorsports.co

    June 30, 2021 at 00:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Dodge Sprinter Van Repair

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering issues with your RSS. I donít understand why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody else getting similar RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    https://www.smartsupp.com/affiliate/click?id=1124&url=https://commercialvanrepairshop.com/

    June 30, 2021 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. lịch thi đấu fa cup

    Thẳng Bóng Đá Thời Điểm Hôm Naysổ tay fo4Đây có lẽ rằng là ngôi trường hợp “của đi thay cho nhân viên" khá may mắn đối cùng với Ben McLemore. Thiếu chút nữa tay ném của Los Angeles Lakers đã có được thể gặp tai nạn nghiêm trọng. Cập nhật kết trái trận nước Việt Nam vs Lebanon nằm trong play-off vòng chủng loại Futsal World Cup 2021.

    https://virandoamor.com/detail/90tv-live-106238.html

    June 30, 2021 at 04:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RV Repair California

    http://ergobaby.sagetrack.com/redirect/?cid=98&afid=94&sid1=&sid2=&sid3=&url=http://ocrv.fun

    June 30, 2021 at 07:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Repair Shops Near Me

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?

    https://www.joblinkapply.com/Joblink/5972/Account/ChangeLanguage?lang=es-MX&returnUrl=https://orangecountyrvrepair.com/

    June 30, 2021 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. live casino

    Xem Trực Tiếp Viettel Vs Tỉnh Bình Dương Tại V League 2021 Ở Kênh Nào? 188betĐội tuyển chọn Việt Nam chỉ cần một kết quả hòa có bàn thắng để lần loại hai góp mặt tại World Cup futsal. Nhưng, để thực hiện được như vậy

    https://sshuebner.org/

    June 30, 2021 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. soi cau kubet

    Tin Tức, Sự Khiếu Nại Liên Quan Lại Đến Thẳng Bóng Đá Nữ truc tiep kenoĐội tuyển futsal Việt Nam đã có một trận đấu chấp nhận được trước đối thủ đầy mức độ mạnh Lebanon. Kết quả Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu vs Bình Phước ngày hôm nay 18h00 ngày 5/5, Hạng nhất Việt Nam.

    https://sshuebner.org/

    June 30, 2021 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Business Van Repair

    http://www0.powerware.com/pp/_cc/chk_new.asp?T=1&url=https://www.sprintervanrepairnearme.com/

    June 30, 2021 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Van Repair

    I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your information. This article has truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed too.

    http://kidscorner.org/plugins/content/external_links/external_links/frameset.php?url=https://www.commercialvanrepairshop.com

    June 30, 2021 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    There's certainly a lot to learn about this issue. I really like all of the points you've made.

    https://www.azlawhelp.org/externalsite.cfm?url=//www.ocrvcenter.mobi/

    June 30, 2021 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. 12bet

    Thẳng Bóng Đá Thời Điểm Hôm Nay, Link Xem đá Bóng Trực Tuyến 24h tivi truc tuyen todayĐội tuyển chọn nước ta chỉ cần thiết một kết quả hòa có bàn thắng để lần loại hai góp mặt tại World Cup futsal. Nhưng, nhằm thực hiện được như vậy

    https://naija5.com/

    June 30, 2021 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Leave a Reply to teresa


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.