To Some, Lights Are Noisy

Several participants, including the synesthetes and others without synesthesia, observed patterns of rhythmic flashes similar to visual Morse code, and had to guess whether subsequent patterns were the same or different. When the flashes were accompanied by sound, like beeps, Saenz and Koch found no difference in the performance of those with synesthesia and those without.

But when the test was repeated without the audio track, the synesthetes outperformed the nonsynesthetes dramatically because they still "heard" the sounds. Two sensory pathways are better than one.

Although people with synesthesia are not handicapped, and do not suffer from their condition, they are fascinating to neuroscientists because of what their condition might tell about how the human brain functions.

"Very little is known about how the auditory and visual systems work together in the brain and communicate with each other," Saenz said. "We know that when we see and hear something at the same time, what we hear can influence what we see, and vice versa. But we don't really know why."

Lee Dye is a former science writer for the Los Angeles Times. He now lives in Juneau, Alaska.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5611943. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5611943. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5611943. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5611943. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5611943. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5611943.
Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
A Gilchrist county sheriffs car sits at the end of a trailer home where 7 members of a family were slain by their grandfather in Bell, FL, Thursday, Sept., 18, 2014. The grandfather, Don Spirit, pictured, also killed himself.
Phil Sandlin/AP Photo | Gilchrist County Sheriffs Office
PHOTO:
St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church in Ecorse Michigan
PHOTO: Phoenix police officers escort Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer, to the 4th Avenue Jail following his arrest, Sept. 17, 2014 in Phoenix.
The Arizona Republic, David Kadlubowski/AP Photo