In this post, we bring you five synesthesia videos that are sure to expose you to something new about the sensory phenomenon! Each of these videos has something different to offer, and this sampling represents only a small fraction of the interwebs’ vast collection of videos on synesthesia and other neurological phenomena. So, without any further ado, let us begin!
1. Talking Synesthesia – Megan Steven, Dartmouth Professor
In this video, Dartmouth Professor, Megan Steven, gives us an inside look at the brain activations of a blind synesthete. She discusses the areas of brain activity as they relate to specific synesthetic experiences, highlighting the synesthete’s spatial and color-oriented perceptions. Pretty interesting stuff!
2. Steffie Tomson (Synesthesia Researcher)
Steffie Tomson, a graduate student of the renowned Eagleman Lab, offers what is probably my favorite two-word description of synesthesia – “sensory interplay.” She discusses cases of grapheme-color and lexical-gustatory, telling a humorous story about a not-so-pleasant tasting “Eric.” This one is short and sweet.
3. Synesthesia: The Color of Music – Kris Williams
In this short documentary, a young lady takes us through her experiences as a synesthete. She explains not only her synesthetic perceptions, but also some of the struggles that are inherent to perceiving the world around her differently than others. Conversely, she praises her mother and sister for their unwavering support. If you love comparing your experiences to those of others, this will be right up your alley.
4. What Color is Tuesday? – Richard Cytowic
Richard Cytowic, a well-known neurologist and author, brings us what is likely the best info-per-second video on synesthesia in his TED-Ed, “What Color is Tuesday?”. While this animated gem is chock-full of interesting tidbits and foundational facts, there are two more subtle points that I’d like to extract.
First and foremost: Synesthesia is not a disorder; it “is a trait, like having blue eyes.” Cytowic points out that there is nothing wrong with the synesthetic mind; in fact, it is likely to possess a better capacity for memory and recall. Secondly, “we’re all synesthetes.” Because “sight, sound, and movement already map to one another so closely,” we all have a bit of synesthete in us. Pretty neat, right?
5. The Smell of a Sound, The Taste of a Color – Bryan Alvarez
Bryan Alvarez of UC Berkeley discusses some of the traits that are common to synesthetic experiences. While this one is a tad more academic, it brings to light some of the fundamental differences between conceived perceptions and automatic, involuntary (and often consistent) synesthetic perceptions. Understanding these characteristics plays an integral role in identifying the phenomenon.
As I mentioned at the outset, this is but a small sampling of the available video resources on synesthesia. I encourage you to leave a comment with a link to your favorite video or any thoughts you might have on those above. And, as always, thanks for stopping by!