What color is letter “A” in your mind? How does green color sound in your head? – Are you able to answer these questions without hesitation?
So, if the letter A in your head is of a red color, or purple, or even white as snow and if green color sounds like the growl of a dog or like a heartbeat or if it doesn’t sound anyhow but smells like grandmamma’s baked bread, congratulations, you are a synesthete!
What does it mean? Don’t worry, synesthesia nor is the name of a sect, neither it is a new crossfit movement. Basically, synesthesia is a superpower ability to perceive the world through various senses. It is a condition, when the stimulation of one sense may arouse other senses at once due to the neuro-connectivity increase (Nunn, et al., 2002). That is, when figures, dates, sentences or music transform into personalities, colors or smells or anything else in your mind involuntarily. Literally, when you can feel the taste of Homer’s “Illiad” or the smell of the “Yellow Submarine” by Beatles in your head.
The most popular synesthesia type is assumed to be coloured hearing, when sounds and music are perceived as colors. That is why, many famous musicians are appeared to be synesthetes, like talented Russian composer Nikolay Rimski-Korsakov, famous American composers Duke Ellington and Billy Joel, French composer Olivier Messiaen and classical pianist Hélène Grimaud and my favorite musician and singer Pharrel Williams. Likewise, such brilliant artists as Kandinsky and David Hockney had this ability along with an author of “Lolita”, Vladimir Nabokov, who perceived the letters of Russian alphabet as various tastes.
And referring to the learning theory, learning processes can be fostered by using multiple techniques, because it is more likely that the visual information supported with the sounds will be sent to the long-term memory, thus, improving the overall intellectual potential of a learner. In this case, being a synesthete can become an advantageous trait. However, in order to make maximum use of this opportunity, one must be aware of this condition and should recognize it. Because unless you are cognizant of your ability, colorful numbers and names in your head can make you feel befuddled or it can have more detrimental effect when colors of different digits create a dichotomy and become distracting during the exam, for instance. Also the incongruence between the digit’s color on the board (if the teacher used multicolored markers or chalk) and in the head make students feel nervous and diluted, which can result in a bad mark.
Though it may seem as a very rare and unusual phenomenon, according to the statistics, about one in 2,000 people is a synesthete, and about one in 300 people is reported to have some variation of this condition (Carpenter, 2001). Having discovered the synesthesia condition, educators around the world help the students to embrace their ability and take advantage of it. Making students accept their unusual condition may increase their self-confidence, since they will not be shunning their uniqueness, and it will improve the general psychological development of the children.
All in all, there are so many synesthetes around you, and maybe they are not aware of their superpower, so give them a clue! Or, who knows, maybe you are the chosen one too =)