Saturday, May 30, 2009

Synaesthesia: Means Wednesday is Indigo Blue!

Synaesthesia, as it turns out, may be up to seven times as common among artists, novelists and composers as it is among other people. What's more, it seems to run in families. For example, the Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov (see "From father to son") saw letters in colours, as did his mother - who also heard in colours - and as does his son Dmitri. This obviously lends support to the idea that synaesthesia has a genetic underpinning.

If it is genetic - and common - why would evolution have selected for such a condition? According to Cytowic and Eagleman, it is all "to do with creativity - especially an ease for making metaphoric cross-connections". Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran at the University of California, San Diego, has had a book on metaphor and synaesthesia in the wings for a couple of years, so we may be at the start of a rich theory of synaesthesia, one that could illuminate profound issues in consciousness studies and cognitive science.

No comments:

Post a Comment