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Perception Roundup

February 27, 2009

Scientists make advances in the understanding of synesthesia, a condition in which different senses are mixed up in the brain.


Seeing sounds. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Everyone has seen a loud tie, but people with synesthesia might actually hear one. The condition causes a mixing of the senses, so people hear colors or see sounds. It affects less than one percent of the population and seems to run in families. In the American Journal of Human Genetics, scientists report finding four areas of human chromosomes associated with the condition. The research aims to find the underlying causes of synesthesia, and to reveal how the brain processes sensations.

In other sensory news, University of British Columbia scientists report that colors have different effects on our productivity. Volunteers performing tasks on a computer screen with a lot of red were better at detail-oriented work, like proofreading, while those with blue computer environments did much better on creative tasks. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.