Family members with the condition known as synesthesia may both experience the word Wednesday as a color--but not the same color.
What color is Wednesday? And what sound is red? Those are real questions for people with synesthesia. It’s a condition where input to one sense causes sensation in another. A hundred years ago, synesthesia was a huge topic of discussion. But many were skeptical. Now, modern research using brain scans shows the neurological condition really exists, in about one of every 2,000 people. Psychologists at Trinity College in Dublin have found that 42 percent of people with the condition have a first-degree relative who also has it. But consider this: even in the same family, people don’t always agree on what color a certain day is. That suggests a genetic link, but one that can be expressed differently in individuals. And when researchers played videos that combined people mouthing one word with audio of another, such as gate and date, there was a surprise: it was the visual cue that set off the expected sensation, not the actual sound. There was a happy finding too. Synesthesia might sound like an unpleasant condition, but people who have it don’t feel that way. They say it makes their lives richer, not more confusing.