I still remember the first time I realized that numbers, week days, years and months had a certain order in my brain. I must have been around 7 or 8 then. And now, around 2 decades later, I realize that not everyone has this type of imagination, and that this is in fact a neurological phenomenon called Synesthesia.
According to News-medical.net, Synesthesia is a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.
People with Synesthesia (referred to as Synesthetes) may consistently see different alphabets in different colours (A is red, while G is yellow ), they may also hear melodies in association of a certain type of visual input/stimuli.
In an attempt to describe an early memory of Synesthesia , Julie Roxburgh said: “I saw this most beautiful sound, it was just gorgeous… beautiful reds, yellows and purples… My mum said it was the crock crowing… my first real memory of the wonderful visual sounds that I experience”-An Eyeful of Sound.
As for me, apparently it is a different type of Synesthesia; one that is called Spatial Sequence Synesthesia, where a person visualises a certain sequence/order for numbers, days, months, years, time, etc. in physical space. Yes, that’s exactly what I do, I have different positions for, let’s say, numbers, in my brain.
An example of the order numbers take in my “bubble”:
20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30…100
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0
And now I can confidently say that I am not weird, I am a Synesthete.
According to relative research, Synesthesia is hereditary in 40% of the cases, and is more common amongst females. As for the neurological basis for this, “Neuroimaging shows that the connections between the brain’s sensory pathways are both denser and more active in synaesthetes than in non-synaesthetes.”-Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences.
While reserach had made progress in finding out more about his phenomenon, it continues to be one of the mysteries in the world of neuroscience, constantly sparking interest of researchers who are intrigued by the whats, whys, wheres and hows of it.
Regardless of the specific type of synesthesia one has, this phenomena gives a synesthete the chance to perceive the world differently, in the most literal sense there is, which I believe creates grounds for creativity, individuality, and all sorts of exciting experiences. And no matter how you are perceiving this article right now, whether as “typical” as one can do so, or you are hearing sounds, seeing colours or even feeling a weird taste in your mouth as you read; I wish you a happy reading experience.
Photo Credit: Silentreaper