What Colour Is Wednesday?

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synaesthetic perceptions
My synaesthetic perceptions.

Those of us that are blessed with synaesthesia see the world slightly differently to the rest. For us, it is more colourful, more extravagant or sometimes, more tasty. For me, Wednesday is baby pink, for others it may be grass green or indigo blue.

Synaesthesia can be described as a mixing or confusion of the senses, where stimulation of one sense elicits an automatic stimulation of another. It is a harmless perceptual condition and is estimated to be prevalent in 1 in 25 people, though those that have it tend not to realise that they are in the minority.

I have three types of synaesthesia: visuospatial, grapheme-colour and day/month-colour. The latter is the most common, where synaesthetes see or associate a colour with each day of the week or month of the year. Similarly, grapheme-colour synaesthesia is where each letter or number on a page elicits a colour response. The same can also occur with sounds, smells and tastes.

Visuospatial is another variant of synaesthesia which involves visualising sequences of mental images, such as numbers or days of the week, to a specific location on a spatial map. It has been estimated that there are 20 different types of synaesthesia, and around half of all synaesthetes have more than 1 type.

One explanation of how these automatic associations occur is that there is increased wiring between areas of the brain that are in close proximity. However, Dr David Eagleman, who created the synaesthesia battery (an online testing and research tool), prefers a different theory. He believes that this extra wiring exists in everyone, but the brain of a synaesthete is unable to stop the stimulation reaching other sensory areas.

I have found synaesthesia to be a useful revision tool as it allows me to make associations and links between pieces of information. If you would like to find out more about synaesthesia, visit http://www.uksynaesthesia.com/.

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