Hearing in color: ARS students polled for synesthesia


Can you taste certain words? Do you hear colors? No matter what senses may mix in your mind, it can be safely said that if you experience two or more different senses from the same stimulus, you are likely synesthetic!

Don’t worry, it’s not contagious. Synesthesia is a neurological condition that, literally translated from Greek, means “joined perception.” In this case, the “joined perception” is that of the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell). While difficult to diagnose, neurologists agree that synesthesia will follow some basic criteria: the responses are involuntary, memorable, and consistent. The most common forms of synesthesia are grapheme-color synesthesia (seeing letters/number/words as a tint or color), chromesthesia (sounds evoking a color), and spatial sequence synesthesia (seeing numbers or sequences at a specific point in space, such as 1 is “farther away” than 2).

Synesthesia is not all that common; it only affects about 1 in 23 people. It’s most prevalent in “creative types”– musicians, artist, and writers. Here at the Polaris Press we were intrigued by this, so we polled ARS Fine Art students with a basic synesthesia test to see how many of our creative students experience a confusion of the senses!