Synesthesia - When sounds become colours

Synesthesia is a perception phenomenon in which certain sensory impressions activate areas of the brain,which are usually not stimulated by these sensory impressions. This creates an additional sensory experience and is a very heterogeneous phenomenon in which, for example, music can trigger a number or color experience. Synesthesia is a special talent. The cause is an increased functional coupling between different brain regions. Synesthesia causes a heightened sensory experience and goes Hand in hand with above-average creativity and memory performance. 

Examples of artists with synesthesia: Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams, Franz Liszt, Vincent Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, Kandinsky.

Courtesy of Listening In 

Most people can imagine something while listening to music. But what about colors? There are artists who experience synesthesia and combine color with sound. Messiaen was an artist with synesthesia. Understanding their perception can give us a better understanding of their art.

If you wish to dive deeper into the world of synesthesia:

Beeli, G., Esslen, M., & Jancke, L. (2005). Synaesthesia: when coloured sounds taste sweet. Nature, 434(7029), 38.

Beeli, G., Esslen, M., & Jancke, L. (2008). Time course of neural activity correlated with colored-hearing synesthesia. Cereb Cortex, 18(2), 379-385.

Caroline Curwen, Music-colour synaesthesia: Concept, context and qualia, Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 61, 2018, Pages 94-106,

Hanggi, J., Beeli, G., Oechslin, M.,& Jancke, L. (2008). The multiple synaesthete E.S. - Neuroanatomical basis of interval-taste and tone-colour synaesthesia. Neuroimage.

Rouw, R. & Scholte, H. S. (2007). Increased structural connectivity in grapheme-color synesthesia. Nat Neurosci, 10(6), 792-797.

Saenz, M. & Koch, C. (2008). The sound of change: visually-induced auditory synesthesia. Curr Biol, 18(15)(15), R650-1.

Tang, J., Ward, J., & Butterworth, B. (2008). Number Forms in the Brain. J Cogn Neurosci.

Ward, J. (2007). Acquired auditory-tactile synesthesia. Ann Neurol, 62(5), 429-430.

Ward, J. & Mattingley, J. B. (2006). Synaesthesia: an overview of contemporary findings and controversies. Cortex, 42(2), 129-136.

Ward, J. & Simner, J. (2005). Is synaesthesia an X-linked dominant trait with lethality in males? Perception, 34(5), 611-623.