Synesthesia: What It's Like To Hear Colors

Synesthesia: What It's Like To Hear Colors

Senses being intertwined is pretty cool.
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The idea of hearing sounds, tasting images, and feeling colors makes no sense to most people. As we reach the age of around three years old, our senses start to form clear boundaries against one another and they stop sharing the same space in our brain. For some people, like me, those boundaries never become very rigid. This is called a neurological condition called synesthesia: a “confusion of the senses.”


Scientists don’t have a very firm grasp on synesthesia yet. The scientific community does know that everyone experiences synesthesia at some level; for most people it’s very low. This is why everyone can understand “sharp cheddar” and “piercing sounds.”

There are many famous people who had or have synesthesia, particularly artists and musicians, such as Vincent van Gogh, Marilyn Monroe, and even composer Franz Lizst. Many famous artists and figures are what as known as “pseudo-synesthetes;” people who expressed a form of synesthesia in their art but do not actually have it. There is also a lot of speculation of past and present well known people who may have been synesthetes based on things they have said in their art or otherwise -- for example, Friedrich Nietzsche describes Shoepenhauer’s words as “green and black.” Many people with synesthesia involuntarily assign colors or personalities to words and numbers -- this kind of synesthesia is called ordinal linguistic personification. For example, I see the number eight as a woman who is sort of stuck up and vain.

There are two generally accepted umbrella forms of synesthesia: projective and associative. Projective is when one will actually see colors and hear sounds when their synesthesia is triggered; i.e., if a projective synesthete sees the color sage green, they may actually hear the sound of a water bottle cracking. Associative is when one feels a strong connection between the stimulus and the sense; like when I see green and blue plaid, I’m very much reminded of the smell of a park I went to as a child, but I don’t actually experience the smell.

There are several subcategories of synesthesia -- my mother and I both have spatio-temporal synesthesia, which is when one can see time as a spatial construct. It is thought that the most common type of synesthesia is chromesthesia, which is when sounds translate to colors. This is often where pseudo-synesthesia and speculated synesthesia for famous people comes into play, mostly in music and visual art.

While synesthesia is technically a neurological condition, most of us synesthetes do not view it as a hindrance to our lives, in fact, most of us feel blessed to have it, since it can be an aid to creative practices and memory. Many people with synesthesia do not know that our intertwining of the senses is unusual until we learn that the general population does not share these experiences.

If you have ever attached a color to a sound, or a taste to a physical sensation, I urge you to look further into synesthesia and consider the fact that you may have it. There are some books written on the topic, as well as some online resources. Becoming aware that one has synesthesia can be open a lot of doors, especially for artists and creatives.

(Statistics, facts, and general information on synesthesia paraphrased from the Wikipedia page on synesthesia.)

Cover Image Credit: wiseGEEK

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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How Art Can Help You Take Care Of Yourself

It's time to go on a date with yourself.

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Art is a quintessential part of the human experience: it has something that has been present in human culture beginning from prehistoric times, from when human consciousness first entered the world. It is also something that transcends definition and intertwines with our play of life and the meaning of humanity. Art is an expression of feeling in its most ethereal meaning and "for fun" at its most basic.

Personally, as an Art History minor, art has been a dimension of life for me that I have explored deeply and holds a lot of meaning. Painting is a huge outlet and way to deal with stress for me, and appreciating fine art teaches me about the aspect of history and how all of history is tied together throughout paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It helps me center myself and remind me of the place I hold in this world and the curious aspect personal experience of history. However, art doesn't need to be the stereotypical idea of art: it can be expressed through dance, the learning of a new language, or the coloring of mandalas to ease stress.

The exploration of art and the artistic side of human nature is something that everyone has in them: it's written in our psychology. We have an entire side of our brain that is inclined toward feeling and abstract interpretation, so it's natural to assume that emotion and expression of art are intrinsically intertwined. Thus, experiencing art is a way to personally develop yourself, and can be an unfound way of finding out things about yourself.

Different ways to explore your artistic side can be very easy: as easy as 3rd-grade coloring books, coloring mandalas, or finger-painting. Recently, I participated in a lantern festival and being able to paint a small lantern was an amazing outlet from a stress-filled week and allowed me to express myself through something besides just communication. Writing is also another good way to express emotion and create art: many books are just art pieces, and can be another way to further develop yourself. Additionally, other small fun things like carving pumpkins (spooky season!) or even curating the perfect Instagram profile can be another way to express yourself.

Appreciating the small things in your life as art and self-expression help put you more in touch with yourself, which is easy to lose throughout the mundane cycles of college, work, and life in general. Keeping yourself in harmony and balance might seem like an earthy-crunchy concept, but self-care and self-love are vital in keeping the rest of your life ordered. Being mindful of yourself and your goals is something that I have always have had difficulty with, but working toward learning more about yourself is taking the first step.

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