Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The taste of words

  • A report on synaesthesia by the University of Edinburgh is published in Nature.
More on this intriguing condition:
When Simner and her co-author Jamie Ward showed unusual objects to the synaesthetes and asked them to name them the researchers found that the taste was triggered by the meaning of the word and not the sound.

The synaesthetes started to taste the word before they started to say it.

"You have to access the meaning of the word to have the taste triggered," Simner said.

"It is triggered by the part of the brain that encodes the meaning of words, not the part of the memory that encodes the way the word sounds."

Simner said synaesthesia is caused by parts of the brain that don't normally actively communicate with each other. The same connections exist in the brains of most people but they are inhibited so the information is not allowed to pass.

"We suspect that in synaesthesia those pathways are opened up and information can pass down them," she added.

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