acoutic "colors"

schm7143 at schm7143 at
Tue Mar 21 23:56:04 EST 1995

In a Ph.D. seminar class where we were introduced to many facets of 
communication disorders we were given an interesting article to read that 
deals with this topic.  The title is "TASTING COLORS, SMELLING SOUNDS" 
and can be found in "The Sciences", Sept/Oct 1988.  The author is Richard 
Cytowic, a neurologist and founder of Capitol 
Neurology, a private clinic in Bethesda, Maryland, and is the author of a 
book dealing with this phenonmena titled, "SYNESTHESIA:  A UNION OF THE 
SENSES."  You may find this excerpt interesting......
     "...In "In the mind of a Mnemonist", writtent by the Soviet 
neuropsychologist A.R. Luria, "S" recalled that after hearing a bell 
ring, "a small round object rolled right before my fingers 
sensed something rough like a rope...Then I experienced a taste of salt 
water...and something white."  Of a woman's voice, he observed she had 
"answered in such a tone that a whole pile of coals, of black cinders, 
came bursting out of her mouth."   "S" also recalled that the words of a 
certain prayer "settled in my minad as puffs of steam or splashes," and 
that the sight of a jagged line produced the sound of the letter R.  
Soviet neurologists reported that upon hearing a (100 dB 50Hz) tone, "S" 
"saw a brown strip against a dark background that had red, toungue-like 
edges.  The [simulataneous] sense of taste he experienced was like that 
of sweet and sour borscht."
     The Russian "S" was not hallucinating.  His unusual perceptions were 
constant over decades.  Instead, "S" had aremarkable capacity for 
synethesia--literally, a union of the senses--in which one actual 
stimulus elcitis the vivid perception of another.  In hes case, the 100 
dB tone rang in signals from several senses, but, in most synthetes, one 
stimulus brings the sensation of only a second.  Any sense may excite 
another:  seeing may trigger audiotion; hearing may trigger vision; 
touching may trigger gustation; tasting may trigger palpation."

The article continues to explore the neurological networks involved.  It 
is not very heavy reading if you can find it.

Good Luck
UT Dallas 

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