by Latha Vidyaranya
Just imagine how wonderful and sophisticated is our brain that it can file each of our sensory experience neatly into millions of files and retrieve them in a fraction of a second, making us all reel under the gush of nostalgia?! But what if they are wrongly connected to different sensory areas?
This is called ‘Synesthesia‘. It is a condition inside the brain where the sensory nerves from various sense organs bringing in different sensory experiences are wrongly connected to different sensory areas! And can you imagine the effect it has on the person? He can see smells, hear pictures, and smell colours and numbers! It is very true. There are a number of people in this world who can see colours when you mention a number, or when they look at objects, they either smell things or get a particular taste in their mouth that the object is in no way associated with those sensory experiences. I have a cousin who sees colours when i mention some mathematical digits. and this is a consistent experience for them – they see the same colour when we mention a particular number. And I have also come across some autistic children who experience this kind of erroneous sense upon sensory stimulus presented to them.
And the surprising thing is that these people when they were children believed that that is how everybody experiences the sensory stimulations and they come to realize that it is not so only later, may be around the time of school going, when children read number three as 3 and not white or black! Or when the teacher reads a lesson or they listen to a rhyme, all the children repeat rhymes, but these synesthetics would be either seeing colours or smelling certain scents!! Amazing is it not?
Also read: Smell is a powerful sense
(Latha Vidyaranya is a Special Educator and Counsellor and has founded ‘Empower Counselling Centre’ in Malleswaram, Bangalore.)