A concise primer in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series on the neurological trait of vividly-felt sensory couplings by a founder of the field.

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Imagine music and voices seen as colored moving shapes. Words and names that have distinct tastes. Alphabets, calendars, and timelines that wrap around the body in space. The personalities of numerals and punctuation marks such that “3” is a tall, sporty male while the number “8” is a plump, arrogant lady.

These are just a few of the overt synesthetic experiences felt by 1 in 90 individuals. One in 23 carry the synesthesia genes. Not a disorder but a sensory trait like having perfect pitch, synesthesia confers surprising benefits on those who have it. Cytowic is considered the pioneering researcher who returned the phenomenon to mainstream science after decades of oblivion and disbelief. Synesthesia provides an accessible introduction to this fascinating human experience.

The Man Who Tasted Shapes

The Man Who Tasted Shapes

A Bizarre Medical Mystery offers Revolutionary Insights into Emotions, Reasoning, and Consciousness

Imagine a world of salty visions and square tastes. Although a minority of people experience the world this way, neurologist Richard Cytowic shows how the phenomenon of synesthesia sheds light on how all human brains function.

For 200 years synesthesia had confounded science. Now Dr. Cytowic tells the stories of extraordinary individuals and relates how a decade of experiments led him to conclude that all of us perceive synesthetically, but that the ability is usually hidden from conscious awareness.

His investigations deliver a fresh perspective on memory, the roots of creativity, the feasibility of artificial intelligence, and the importance of subjectivity.


Wednesday is Indigo Blue

The definitive synesthesia book by the two leading experts: Richard E. Cytowic, MD and David M. Eagleman, PhD

Winner, The Montaigne Medal

“A unique and indispensable guide for anyone interested in how we perceive the world.” — Oliver Sacks

In Wednesday Is Indigo Blue, Richard Cytowic and distinguished neuroscientist David Eagleman explain the neuroscience and genetics behind synesthesia’s multisensory experiences. They show that perception is already multisensory in everybody, though for most of us its multiple dimensions are beyond the reach of consciousness. Reality, they say, is more subjective than people realize. No mere curiosity, synesthesia turns out to be a window on the mind and brain, highlighting the amazing differences in the way people see the world.

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