It has been described as a neurological condition, as a gift, as hyperconnectivity, as the mixing of the senses, as multimodal associations. However, synaesthesia is so much more than just a neurological condition.
It’s the constant creation of multi-modal art by the brain, in an automatic, involuntary, immediate way.
That’s why words and science cannot fully explain and describe the synaesthetic experience, because it is fundamentally artistic, the
essence of creativity.
Research has been conducted for over a century to try and discover the neurological causes of this unusual, if not rare, way of perceiving reality. It’s called synaesthesia, from the Greek ‘syn-‘, together and ‘-aesthesis’, feeling, perceiving, and no other explanation could quite match the simplicity and yet comprehensiveness of its own etymology.
Feeling with different senses together, at the same time, is common to all beings (tasting and smelling food), but while multimodality within certain domains is familiar to most people, the connections between seemingly distant modalities is something exceptional. In 2-4% of the population, sensory inputs in one modality give rise to responses in different modalities – it’s coloured hearing, tasting words, touching sounds… A musical piece, for instance, is not only perceived by hearing, but also by
sight, touch, smell and taste, depending on the activation of the different neural connections.