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 (700 Responses)
  1. accident repair shop near me

    Great site you have here.. It’s hard to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    http://www.5173.com/html/gg.aspx?url=https://ocrvcenter.co/rv-repair-shop-indio-california

    May 12, 2021 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Maintenance California

    http://creditrepair.mx/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=youtube.com/channel/UChUH5GdtSzHx6V02C90mnfQ/videos

    May 12, 2021 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sprinter Resistor Repair

    http://cies.xrea.jp/jump/?https://fleettruckrepairshop.com/promaster-van-conversion-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. glass dab rig

    However, be apt to choose an online site that is reputable. That's why I pick Bama when compared to the best ever. Plus, it really helps build focus and mental toughness fish bowl bong{The buzzing activities in the football fan gift shops go as many as a new high the particular football world cup. Check the comfort quotient of t-shirts while choosing one from them. It is vital where most go horribly wrong.|The other, shoot to put together a box because of this 80 of one's best box height.

    https://pilotdiarystore.com/

    May 13, 2021 at 04:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. box truck door repair near me

    Hi, There's no doubt that your website could possibly be having browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, fantastic blog!

    https://www.triathlon.org/?URL=ocrv.life/delivery-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 05:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. truck shop in orange

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe that this web site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!

    https://redirect.camfrog.com/redirect/?url=https://ocrv.info/rv-repair-shop-el-cajon-california

    May 13, 2021 at 05:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. california collision center lancaster

    http://www.lm.ee/watch?v=fV6M-Z7a0ik

    May 13, 2021 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. bus mechanic near me

    https://api.webconnex.com/v1/postmaster/track/click/4f8036d14ee545798599c8921fbfcd22/db005310dba511e89fb606f49a4ee876?url=https://ocrvshop.com/shuttle-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. semi truck shops near me

    http://eforce.todayir.com/en/fileview.php?file=https://ocrv.xyz/rv-repair-shop-garden-grove-california

    May 13, 2021 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. index of xvideos

    &PageName=login.asp

    May 13, 2021 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. South Haven Michigan Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me

    https://cutephp.com/forum/redirect/?q=https://fleetservicerepairshop.com/promaster-van-conversion-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. rv shower repair

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Thank you for supplying this info.

    http://media.vol.at/weiterleitung/redirect.asp?id=https://theocrv.com/rv-paint-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Tomas Maier

    Suena como si hubieras cosechado las recompensas de la educación de Kyle y Carson Dale – ¡bien por ti! 🙂

    https://609d5bbc29b87.site123.me/blog/busca-trabajo-en-italia-no-se-gradC39Aan-en-ingenierC38Da

    May 13, 2021 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. stornobrzinol

    Wow! This can be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Excellent. I'm also an expert in this topic therefore I can understand your effort.

    http://www.stornobrzinol.com/

    May 13, 2021 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. redtube us

    This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!

    https://historyhub.history.gov/external-link.jspa?url=https://ocrvart.com/national-general-rv-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. trailer repair places near me

    There is certainly a lot to know about this topic. I love all the points you made.

    https://aro.lfv.se/ViewSwitcher/SwitchView?mobile=True&returnUrl=https://ocrv.me/rv-technician-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. bzhVMGgaXz

    high school research papers topics common app personal essay help listen to music when doing homework literature review pecking order theory

    May 13, 2021 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. body shop supplies lemon grove

    http://qnrwz.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvart.com/rv-vinyl-wrap-repair-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. yorba linda dump

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I stumbled across this in my search for something regarding this.

    http://dagens6.dk/0/YoutubeVideo.php?film=qXAhZIrOYpQ

    May 14, 2021 at 00:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. trailer repair shops near me

    Great article. I will be going through many of these issues as well..

    https://www.newsletter.viamedica.pl/lt.php?c=1282&m=2481&nl=6&lid=20647&l=https://ocrv.life/motorhome-windshield-repair-near-me

    May 14, 2021 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. yorba linda dump

    http://www.historisches-festmahl.de/go.php?url=https://ocrv.org/international-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 14, 2021 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Mechanics California

    Spot on with this write-up, I really think this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!

    https://www.cobrasmarketview.com/?wptouch_switch=mobile&redirect=http3A2F2Fyelp.com/biz/ocrv-center-anaheim-4

    May 14, 2021 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. rv repair services

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I really believed you would probably have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you can fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

    https://eservices.dls.moi.gov.cy/translationCatalog.aspx?redPage=https://youtube.com/watch?v=fMIoGM01GVk

    May 14, 2021 at 08:17 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Leave a Reply to Cassey Sima


 

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.