Is synaesthesia teachable?

A recent study at the University of Amsterdam shows that some aspects of synaesthesia can be acquired, temporarily anyways.

There’s some tantalising evidence that some aspects of synaesthesia can be learned. In a study carried out by Colizoli and her colleagues at the University of Amsterdam, non-synaesthetic people were given books to read in which the letters e, t, a and s were coloured while the rest of the text was left black. Despite reading the text as normal (and making no concerted effort to remember the colours), the participants began associating those letters with their colour.

I once dated a synaesthete who thought she had super powers.

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  1. I don't have any sort of strong synaesthesia, but there's a certain shade of pink that smells powerfully of mint and necco wafers.

  2. If I'm just dozing off and am jolted awake by a noise, frequently I see a color pattern associated with it. AFAIK, the pattern has never repeated itself. I also visualize calendar time as a series of hills, valleys, and plateaus. I think many people have one or two quirks that fall under synaesthesia.

  3. I have temporarily experienced synaesthesia several times in my life. These experiences involved compounds which have been oft discussed here on BoingBoing... ahem.

    Also, thank you Dr. Hoffman...

  4. I used to live near a fellow from whom synaesthesia could be acquired, until they arrested him.

  5. Those reading here may be interested in the book, 'Struck by Genius, How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel', by Jason Padgett and Maurein Seaberg. It contains a lot of information interesting to synaesthetes. I believe tai chi trains synaesthesia - linking vision with sense of touch. Some tests of chi show that a person claiming to be able to feel another person's chi cannot do so when the other is (or is not) hidden behind a veil. I've trained in tai chi for years and am able to feel chi from another, yet being a skeptic do not believe it is a Magical energy, but one of the magical facets of our mind-body connections which has not been fully explored scientifically.

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