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Saturday, 22 February 2003

Synaesthesia

My brother has put online a great essay about synaesthesia:

Synaesthesia is unique in that it is perhaps the only psychological trait that `routinely inspires envy in those who study it experimentally'; the majority of synaesthetes interviewed have said that they would not want to lose their rare form of experience. Whether or not synaesthesia confers more traditional advantages over non-synaesthetes, such as memory or intelligence, has provoked much interest - for example, could synaesthesia have been responsible for some part of Feynman's flair with physics? Small studies have demonstrated that some grapheme-colour synaesthetes can recall a number array with significantly more accuracy than non-synaesthetes, but this performance advantage was not shown in all synaesthetes tested. While anecdotal reports of synaesthetes possessing exceptional memory in facts or dates abound, there have been no large scale trials comparing the memory or intelligence of synaesthetes to non-synaesthetes, so currently we have no answer to synaesthesia's possible cognitive benefits. [more]

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