What is Synesthesia?


Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia; from the Ancient Greek "together", and "sensation") is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. People who report a lifelong history of such experiences are known as synesthetes.

Difficulties have been recognized in adequately defining synesthesia: Many different phenomena have been included in the term synesthesia ("union of the senses"), and in many cases the terminology seems to be inaccurate. A more accurate term may be ideasthesia.

In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme - color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored. In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be "farther away" than 1990), or may appear as a three-dimensional map (clockwise or counterclockwise).

Only a fraction of types of synesthesia have been evaluated by scientific research. Awareness of synesthetic perceptions varies from person to person.

Although synesthesia was the topic of intensive scientific investigation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was largely abandoned by scientific research in the mid-20th century. Psychological research has demonstrated that synesthetic experiences can have measurable behavioral consequences, and functional neuroimaging studies have identified differences in patterns of brain activation. Many find that synesthesia aids the creative process. Psychologists and neuroscientists study synesthesia not only for its inherent appeal, but also for the insights it may give into cognitive and perceptual processes that occur in synesthetes and non-synesthetes alike.

"Enhanced Synesthesia" is the ability to enhance and or merge the senses. Users of this ability can perceive two or more different sensory or cognitive responses at once.
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