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 (1,137 Responses)
  1. vtv3 live

    Xem Trực Tiếp Soccertính thuế fo4Theo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania vào ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới cho futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội không ngán Lebanon tuy vậy sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi bên trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch tranh tài, bạn có thể sắp xếp công việc

    https://virandoamor.com/detail/bong-da-u22-truc-tiep-nhanh-nhat-80556.html

    June 19, 2021 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Repair Orange County California

    http://www.sutemos.wip.lt/redirect.php?url=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-riverside-california

    June 19, 2021 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    I was able to find good advice from your content.

    http://www.pichak.net/verification/index.php?n=39&url=https://www.ocrv.club/class-c-collision-repair-shop-near-me/

    June 19, 2021 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. bxh v league

    Xoilac Tv Trực Tiếp Soccerkeno trực tiếpNếu cứ nghịch như cách vừa đè bẹp Everton cho tới 3-1 trên sân quý khách hàng

    https://murraystivoli.com/detail/vaoroi-93993.html

    June 19, 2021 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. bet

    Coi Trực Tiếp Viettel Vs Bình Dương Trên V League 2021 Ở Kênh Nào? 12betĐội tuyển chọn nước Việt Nam chỉ muốn một kết trái hòa có bàn thắng để lần thứ hai góp mặt trên World Cup futsal. Nhưng, để thực hiện được điều này

    https://naija5.com/

    June 19, 2021 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Content Marketing Boutique

    http://enabledathleticwear.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://www.affordableranking.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Internet Marketing Specialists

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always interesting to read articles from other writers and use a little something from other sites.

    https://benefitguides.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://affordableranking.com

    June 20, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Content Marketing Near Me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and the rest of the site is extremely good.

    https://www.ecfiltersales.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://www.affordableranking.com

    June 20, 2021 at 03:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. bd lu

    Trực Tiếp Bóng Đá Ngày Hôm Nay, Link Coi Soccer Trực Tuyến 24h11metTheo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania vào ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới đến futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội không ngán Lebanon tuy nhiên sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch thi đấu, bạn hoàn toàn có thể chuẩn bị xếp làm việc

    https://virandoamor.com/detail/the-thao-tv-hd-xem-online-98936.html

    June 20, 2021 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. www.pharmaceptica.com

    what is hydroxychlor 200 mg https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 04:25 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Leave a Reply to international mv


 

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.