Anything Left-Handed > Research > Synesthesia and left-handedness

Synesthesia and left-handedness

We had an email from Left Handers Club member Peggie recently that got us thinking.  She said:

“I am curious if a lot of left handers have synesthesia. Synesthesia is a form of “crossed wires” in the brain that causes a wide variety of interesting phenomenon such as tasting words, painting music and many others. To me people are a color, not an aura and it is very difficult to explain. Interestingly, I discovered when my son was about 8 yrs old he saw many people the same colors as I do. I have always been referred to as “wierd” in my family because I was the only lefty and this just adds to the weirdness. However, I am proud to be a lefty and unique in this world of boring right handers.”

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which people react to thinks with unusual combinations of their senses, for example perceiving certain letters, numbers or even emotions as colours. The word synesthesia comes from two Greek words, syn (together) and aisthesis (perception). Therefore, synesthesia literally means “joined perception.”

Synesthesia can involve any of the senses. Most common is colored numbers and letters, where someone always sees a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet or number. For example, a synesthete (a person with synesthesia) might see the word “plane” as mint green or the number “4” as dark brown. There are also synesthetes who hear sounds in response to smell, who smell in response to touch, or who feel something in response to sight and there are people who “see” emotions as colours (for example we all know about “feeling blue”).

Synesthetic perceptions are specific to each person. Different people with synesthesia almost always disagree on their perceptions. In other words, if one synesthete thinks that the letter “q” is colored blue, another synesthete might see “q” as orange.

Composition VII - Wassily KandinskyRussian artist Wassily Kandinsky, was a synesthete. He tried to evoke sound through vision – pitch through color. His abstract paintings are intricate and (maybe literally) resounding.
This is his “Composition VII”, painted in Munich, Germany in 1913.
He wrote :
“Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

There is a good page of information on Synesthesia here

https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/synmu

and that includes the assertion that “synesthetes are more likely to be left-handed than the general population”.

And there is another good page here

https://www.synesthesiatest.org/

which includes videos of some songs that have been written about relating colours to emotions, like:

  • “Red” from Taylor Swift’s Album Red (2012), which includes the lyrics
    Losing him was blue like I’d never known
    Missing him was dark grey all alone
    Loving him was red
  • “Yellow” from Coldplay’s Album Parachutes (2000)

So what do you think?  Do you have any experience of synesthesia? Is this a left-handed thing?

Let us know by adding your comments below.

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