?

Log in

Wed, Jun. 29th, 2011, 04:59 pm
matt1993: Light indigo, slightly-yellow orange, sea green, sea green, somewhat more yellow orange (i.e. hello)

Hi all! I'm new here. My synesthesia types, for anyone curious:

- Grapheme→color synesthesia

- What I'm currently calling "song→color synesthesia". That is, different songs have different color schemes, but with the exception of video game music and (to a lesser extent) songs with colors in the titles, the colors seem arbitrary; while any given song consistently has the same palette, I haven't found a pattern between the palette and the tones, instruments, tempo, or in some cases, even the title of a song. (Clannad's "I See Red" actually has a gray palette with some green and light blue mixed in!)

- Grapheme→personality synesthesia with highly varied degrees of vividness. The only grapheme that has even some specifics in its physical appearance is 8, which reminds me of a young girl with blonde hair that wears pink. (Oddly, even though this is the only semi-specific physical appearance that a grapheme reminds me of, it isn't based on anyone in particular. Even more odd is that neither the hair or clothing match 8's grapheme→color synesthesia color, which is orange.) Only three other graphemes even have personalities or vague physical appearances: 3 and 7 are jokers, and 9 is like a beautiful woman. (Another strange thing - I often associate anyone with a "beautiful woman"-esque personality with my #1 celebrity crush, Enya, yet 9 still doesn't "look like" Enya.) Some of the other graphemes (including letters now) only have genders, while others don't even have that.

- VERY limited music→taste synesthesia. So far, there is only one time that I've had this. See, ketchup-flavored potato chips were once available in the United States, but sadly, they aren't anymore; but in the time that they were, the Hightail Falls Galaxy music from Super Mario Galaxy 2 tasted like them (after I'd tried them, of course). Unless putting actual ketchup on any other flavor of chips does the same thing to that music (I have yet to attempt it), that was probably the only time I'll ever have music→taste synesthesia.

A few questions:

1) Until I read Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet, I didn't know I had any of these. But this isn't the usual "synesthete's associations were always as vivid as they are today, but at first they thought everyone perceived the same thing" scenario. Rather, before then I hardly even noticed that letters and numbers seemed to naturally have colors in my mind, and when I did, it was usually just based on the letter and number magnets I used to play with and/or Barney's Number Friends (which, in my childhood, was probably my favorite book).

After I read some of Born on a Blue Day (I still have yet to read all of it), I started noticing that, indeed, I had grapheme→color synesthesia, but it was still pretty vague - it took me a long time to decide that C was blue (and even that wasn't quite accurate, as now it seems more like indigo) and that B was orange (same thing - now, it's more of a reddish-orange), but since C didn't match my letter magnets (because, if I remember correctly, the magnet C's were yellow), I knew I had to have grapheme→color synesthesia. I still didn't notice my grapheme→personality synesthesia until much later when I randomly thought about Daniel's again, nor did I notice my song→color synesthesia until I saw someone mention it on some forum/blog I don't remember the name of.

It wasn't until I posted to autism about this much later that I tried to make a complete list of my perceived colors for graphemes, and there were still some that weren't clear enough, so I had to guess. Some of the once ones (stupid typos) I guessed turned out to be wrong later on - for instance, I guessed that 8 was pink (based on Barney's Number Friends), but later on, looking at an 8, I realized that it was actually easier to imagine it as orange than as pink. Even now, most of the graphemes that I perceive as green (F, J, L, T, V, Y, and 7; the last 3 are the exceptions) seem to change shades every now and then, making it difficult to remember new words beginning with F, J, L, or T. Then again, C and N used to keep switching colors in the same way but finally settled on C as indigo and N as blue, so there's hope.

The point is, even though my grapheme→color synesthesia seems to have been given to me by Born on a Blue Day, Barney's Number Friends, and my magnets (and possibly Mario games, if L being green like Luigi's clothes is any indication, even though M, W, and Γ don't match Mario, Wario or Waluigi), a lot of the colors don't match any of the apparent "sources" of my synesthesia. Has anyone else experienced this?

2) Is it normal to have grapheme→color synesthesia, yet still not be exceptionally fast at math?

I'm good at it, yes - in fact, I did so well on an AP Calculus exam that I get to take Calculus III in my first semester of college - but I'm not fast at math. If someone asks me, "What's the square root of 113?" and I don't have a calculator, I couldn't start reciting "10.630145812734649407999121914929..." just then. First, I'd have to manually figure out that the square numbers before and after 113 are 100 and 121, which means that it's between 10 and 11 (so the integer part is 10), which takes about 10 seconds to figure out. Once I tell them that, I try to figure out the next digit. 105² = 10500 + 525 = 11025, so 10.5² = 110.25 (too low); 107² = 10700 + 749 = 11449, so 10.7² = 114.49 (too high); 106² = 11236 (at least by now I noticed a pattern to the squares of numbers between 100 and 109 so I can skip the adding step), so 10.6² = 112.36 (too low).

So, despite my synesthesia, it takes me about 6 minutes just to manually figure out that the square root of 113 is between 10.6 and 10.7. (Just for the record, I didn't put in the calculator answer above until after I'd already manually gotten this far.)

3) Is it common to have synesthesia with varying degrees of vividness, such as the grapheme→personality synesthesia I describe above?

Answers would be appreciated, and since I'm infamous for not making sense, I apologize if this doesn't make sense either.

Wed, Jun. 29th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
valkyriur

1) I've always seen color with sound, but it was so natural that I never really took note of the color and textures, until somebody suggested I look it up. It was normal for me to say something like "this song is such a gorgeous blue". I'd get weird looks and occasionally I'd have people make comments about it, but I thought it was because they didn't see the same thing. It didn't occur to me that they didn't see anything at all. Once I realized that, I started to pay more attention to it.

2) In "Mango Shaped Space", a YA novel, the character with grapheme-->color synesthesia has trouble with math because the numbers are written in white chalk or gray pencil, rather than their appropriate colors. It confuses her.

3) Some people with synesthesia constantly experience it, while others only have it to varying degress. I have sound-->color/texture syn that tends to overlap a bit with grapheme. Certain words have colors or textures due to how they sound and sometimes I see them when I look at words, but it's not as vivid.

Thu, Jun. 30th, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
matt1993

In "Mango Shaped Space", a YA novel, the character with grapheme-->color synesthesia has trouble with math because the numbers are written in white chalk or gray pencil, rather than their appropriate colors. It confuses her.

I know that people with grapheme→color synesthesia have a harder time with math equations that are written in a single color, but still, I'm not even particularly fast if someone verbally gives me a math problem and I imagine the numbers in my mind in their proper colors.

It seems as though the colors helped me memorize math (e.g., times tables, the first few digits of some irrational constants like pi and the square root of 2...), but they don't help much with doing it because I still haven't memorized the same things with the colors themselves.

For instance, "violet × orange = green, cerulean" probably subconsciously helped me in 3rd grade (or maybe before then) to memorize 9 × 8 = 72 (even though I didn't know about synesthesia at the time), but if I just randomly pick two colors to "multiply" like that and they happen to be violet and orange, I don't immediately think "green, cerulean" and convert that to 72. Instead, I have to convert violet and orange to 9 and 8 and then multiply those to get 72.

That gave me an idea, though - I should write a program that gives me simple math problems to solve, but with all the digits either in their proper colors or replaced with squares or circles of those colors (I'm not sure which would help the most), in order to help make me faster (not better) at math. Thanks for accidentally giving me an idea! :D

Some people with synesthesia constantly experience it, while others only have it to varying degress. I have sound-->color/texture syn that tends to overlap a bit with grapheme. Certain words have colors or textures due to how they sound and sometimes I see them when I look at words, but it's not as vivid.

I knew that some synesthetes have varying degrees of synesthesia - for instance, some see vowels in much brighter colors than those of consonants - but I was wondering if there was anyone else who, for a single type of synesthesia, has this variation as drastic as I do, since I perceive 8 as having a gender, age group, hair color, and outfit color yet 0, 1, and about half of the alphabet don't even have genders.

Thu, Jun. 30th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
yoru_yume

I have sound--colour and grapheme--colour syn, but I'm...really not good at maths at all XD. I do tend to recall number sequences by colour though, and sometimes I get confused if the colour of a written number or letter is different to my own colours for them

Thu, Jun. 30th, 2011 04:00 am (UTC)
matt1993

I do tend to recall number sequences by colour though

I do that too! It would be a lot more useful if I could even use it to memorize things that I don't expect to have to recall, though...and it would also be more useful if F, J, L, and T didn't have such similar shades of green so I could recall new words and names that easily :|

Thu, Jun. 30th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
irrational84

I'm not sure about correlations between grapheme→color synesthesia and mathematical ability (other than the fact that I have grapheme→color and am majoring in math), but I bet you could find that square root a lot quicker with Newton's method!

Thu, Jun. 30th, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)
matt1993

I didn't even think about using Newton's Method for square roots! Guess I'm not extraordinarily good or extraordinarily fast at math, then :(

Actually, though, I only think Newton's Method would be faster for the first iteration. Lemme try to figure out the square root of 93 (changed it because I still remember 10.630... from the square root of 113 and don't want to cheat by still knowing it):

93/9=10.3333... (9+10.3333...)/2 = 9.6666...
93/9.6666...=279/29, and I don't have the decimal equivalents of fractions with 29 as the denominator memorized, so I either have to a) try squaring 9.7 with my other method, b) use long division to figure out 279 divided by 29 (so far, all I know is that the integer part is 9), or c) keep it as a fraction and continue Newton's Method, thus winding up with an approximation for the square root of 93 that's even harder to convert to a decimal. Clearly, after the first iteration, a) is by far the fastest and least complicated solution. But hey, at least I can skip a few steps now! :)

Thu, Jun. 30th, 2011 06:45 am (UTC)
broken_moons

1. I had a similar realization of synesthesia as you, where reading about synesthesia made me realise it was happening to me, but it had never been so vivid as for me to think everyone had it. And yes, it took me a while figure out what my colours were, mostly because it's internal and instinctual rather than visual.

2. As far as I know, yes. I mean, my secondary synesthesia is grapheme > colour, and I suck at math. I am good at remembering strings of numbers, though, even better when they have pretty colour patterns that are easy to memorize.

3. I think so, yes. I have two kinds: sound > colour and grapheme > colour. Sound > colour is the more powerful one, and people did always look a bit weird if I described sounds in terms of colour, so I knew it wasn't quite normal, but instinctive for me. That bled into grapheme > colour, but based heavily on sound > colour in terms of letters, and rooted in my first language, Dutch. That is, A looks and sounds red in Dutch, but in English the sound is different, and then the written and spoken form don't match up, colour-wise. This, plus the fact that consonants seem to do little for me (they're all just dark shades of the vowels next to them) makes my grapheme > colour synesthesia weaker, escept for numbers.

I hope our answers are helpful :)

Thu, Jun. 30th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)
matt1993

2. As far as I know, yes. I mean, my secondary synesthesia is grapheme > colour, and I suck at math. I am good at remembering strings of numbers, though, even better when they have pretty colour patterns that are easy to memorize.

I'm not bad at math - I'm just not very fast with it. And I'm good at remembering strings of numbers by their color, but only if I know for certain that I'll have to remember them later, which leads to people who test my memory (for instance, to see whether or not I need accommodations for the SATs) only observing my memory when I expect to have to recall things and thus mistakenly believing that my memory is perfect.