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March 27, 2005

Why some see colours in numbers

US scientists say they can explain why some people 'see' colours when they look at numbers and letters.

As many as one in 2,000 people has an extraordinary condition in which the five senses intermingle, called synaesthesia.

Some see colours when they hear music or words. Others 'taste' words.

The study in Neuron tracked the brain activity of people with the most common form and found peaks in areas involved with perceiving shapes and colours.


The University of California San Diego team said their findings lend support to the idea that the condition is due to cross-activation between adjacent areas of the brain involved with processing different sensory information.

This cross-wiring might develop, they believe, by a failure of the "pruning" of nerve connections between the areas as the brain develops while still in the womb.

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March 27, 2005 in Tech/Science | Permalink


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» Color by Number from Tiffinbox
When you see the number 5 do you see red? If you do, you are likely to have a condition called synaesthesia or the intermingling of the five senses. You aren't unique, though. Apparently one in 2000 have this. [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 28, 2005 1:26:07 PM


I knew about synaesthesia, and figure it is pretty obvious, after all, what must be going on; but I believed that the pairing of colors and numbers, etc was idiosyncratic. If there is significant agreement, wouldn't that mean there is some standard locus for storing the number 5 --independent of mother tongue? Surely letters are NOT -- could the letters of the Roman alphabet have standard loci? That is really hard to believe. Further research is indicated, as they say.

Posted by: judith | Mar 28, 2005 9:05:49 AM

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