LivingWho are synaesthetic people?

Who are synaesthetic people?

Elisabeth Sulser appears to have superpowers. This young woman living in Switzerland has an exceptional quality: she is the only woman in the world who perceives colors when listening to music and other sounds, and also savors them . Although in her childhood she felt like a ‘weirdo’, she is not the only one who perceives reality in this way since, apparently, approximately 1% of the population is synaesthetic , or what is the same, her senses appear mixed.

A sour comment and bitter news .” Most of us fully understand the meaning of the previous sentences and yet neither the comments nor the news have flavor … How can it be then? There is a theory that says that we are all synaesthetes at birth, but that with development there is more separate processing of sensory information . Neuroscientist David Eagleman believes that we may still be synaesthetic to some degree, even though we may not be aware of it.

The synaesthetic brain would have developed differently. Dr. Lutz Jaenke, from the University of Zurich, analyzed Elisabeth Sulser’s brain and found a series of specific and distinct brain connections between her auditory, visual and taste sensory areas.

Do synaesthetic people have a better memory?

A recent work published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews reviews the different case and group studies carried out with the aim of analyzing whether these people have better memories than ordinary mortals. The authors conclude that although there seems to be some benefit in memory for synaesthetics, this is not exceptional, or at least in all cases. They propose that synesthesia could affect the way in which information is encoded, giving rise to a dual encoding that would allow them to learn the information and retrieve it with a greater number of keys or clues.


However, while it may be advantageous for some tasks, it may be difficult for others. One of the most frequent synesthesia is the one between graphemes (written letters) and colors. In this case, some people with synesthesia have difficulty reading because they have to inhibit colors to focus on the content of the words, requiring more selective attention resources.

Whether for better or for worse on an intellectual level, what cases of synesthesia remind us is that reality is individual, depending on the way each of us interprets it. And that is perception, a creation of our brains, and therefore we cannot guarantee that two different people are perceiving the same thing.

The lesson to be learned is clear. We may not be able to feel colored kisses or taste people’s names. What we can do is strive to improve our learning strategies by enhancing those residual brain connections that may be waiting to be reactivated. Use different senses to learn information and you will remember it better.

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