What Color is the Letter A?
What color is the letter A, and what does a triangle taste like?
Although these questions may sound like tales from Woodstock, they actually refer to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia. Synesthesia occurs when a person perceives one sensation and it automatically leads to another sensation, e.g. perceiving the color purple as tasting sweet. Researchers have studied this oddity for hundreds of years, but there has been a divide as to whether this phenomenon is learned or is the result of a structural difference in the brain. Recent research has focused on the structural differences between people who experience synesthesia and the rest of the population who don’t.
A new study examined one of the more common forms of synesthesia, called grapheme-color synesthesia, which involves individuals who perceive letters and numbers as a certain color. The study reported that 11 individuals associate letters with certain colors. The most interesting part is that 11 participants in the study group generally associated the same letters with the same colors. The chance of this occurring is 1 in 1 billion. And here comes the twist: the perceived letter colors correspond with the Fisher Price magnetic letters we all had on our fridge growing up. So maybe there is something to be said for a learned synesthesia.
What do you think?
Image by WillisGMiller, CC BY-SA 4.0.