Synesthesia is defined in Webster's dictionary as "The Sensation produced at a point other than or remote from the point of stimulation, as of a color from hearing a certain sound". This is a rather dry description of one of the most interesting topics in neuro-psychology. The ability to experience the feeling of shapes when viewing colors or hearing music is incredible. Dr. Richard Cytowic is possibly the most famous researcher on this topic and this paper will explore his findings as well as try to explain what it truly feels like to have Synesthesia in ones life. .
Synesthesia is an involuntary physical experience where the stimulation of one sense causes the perception in one or more senses. The experience in one sense would be considered the real perception. When the accompanying senses activate the perceived objects or shapes too seem just as real as the stimulus. The shapes that these people see do not necessarily occur with in the minds eye, but actually out in the viewer's space. Therefore it is not an imagined shape but the hippocampus in the brain is making them visible (Goldstein, 1999).
Richard Cytowic makes an interesting point. He says that the trend over our course of evolution has been the separation of senses. When one thinks about this we do perceive our senses separately. As humans we rely heavily on vision, everything else becomes secondary. Our senses aren't as attuned as they could be. With Synesthesia Cytowic brings up the possible aspect that people with this might be the next step in our evolutionary process. The combination of two or more senses might be perceived as wrong, but may also be a good thing whereas one would have greater knowledge of feelings and sensations. "Its reality and vividness are what make Synesthesia so interesting in its violation of conventional perception. Synesthesia is also fascinating because logically it should not be a product of the human brain, where the evolutionary trend has been for increasing separation of function anatomically" (Cytowic, 1999, p.