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Psychology Department

The University of Edinburgh

What is synaesthesia?

Synaesthesia (American spelling: synesthesia) comes from the Greek 'syn' (together) + 'aesthesis' (perception), and describes a joining together of sensations that are normally experienced separately. Synaesthetes might experience colours or tastes when they read words or hear sounds, while others may experience any combination of tastes, smells, shapes, colours or touches. People are generally born with synaesthesia and it runs in families. The sensations are automatic and cannot be turned off, but synaesthesia is not considered to be harmful. Most synaesthetes enjoy their sensations and could not imagine life any other way! Synaesthesia is not the same as simple metaphor, which all people do (e.g., saying that anger is red) and is more than simply the artistic sensitivity to colours.



About our website

Our research at the University of Edinburgh, in the UK, aims to understand the inheritance, prevalence and underling psychological mechanisms of synaesthesia. Studying synaesthesia may help us to understand how the brain combines different types of information. Our website is designed to help you discover more about synaesthesia, and to invite you to take part in our research. We hope you will find it useful. If you would like to tell us about your synaesthesia, you can click here to take part in our research.













Copyright (C) 2006 - 2008 The University of Edinburgh. Synaesthesia Research Group | All rights reserved. Eye image by James Collins.
06/30/08 updated.