Article Summary

In their article, Ramachandran and Hubbard (2003) describe their study of people with synesthesia, a condition that accounts for cross activation of sensory functions. Authors define synesthesia as a condition in which normal people experience the blending of two or more senses (Ramachandran & Hubbard, 2003, p. 54). Different individuals may have diverse signs of synesthesia and manifestations of the condition may vary. In some cases, a person may experience a particular taste in his or her mouth when looking at a certain color. In other cases, people may see a particular color or a hue when they hear one of the musical notes. There are also conditions when a person who looks at black numbers sees them in hues or colors. In other words, people with synethesia have their senses of smell, hearing, vision, touch and taste mixed up instead of remaining separate.

The condition of synesthesia occurs because some areas of the brain that usually do not interact when processing numbers and colors activate one another in synesthetes. In reality, synesthesia can be explained by the following mechanism. Signals from the retina of the brain travel to the rear area of the brain. There, signals get broken into shared simple characteristics such as depth, motion, color, and form. Then, color information travels to the brain area responsible for perception of the visual appearance of numbers. Consequently, when two separate areas of the brain elicit activity on each other, cross activation takes place. As a result, cross-linking between color and number areas occurs. This mechanism explains synesthesia in people who associate numerical sequences with colors.

It may be assumed that when an individual has synesthesia, his or her senses act simultaneously as intertwined or blended. However, there may be different manifestations of blending of senses and cross wiring inside the brain. For example, while some people may visualize hues of colors as a reaction to particular sounds, others associate certain shapes with particular tastes. For instance, different shapes may evoke mealtime-like experience when an individual has a feeling of having a taste of something. In some other cases, people see hues of colors when looking at black numbers. Ramachandran and Hubbard (2003) investigated several important issues in their study of synesthesia. First, they studied mechanisms involved in synesthesia in order to learn how brain processed sensory information and used it to establish abstract connections between seemingly unrelated inputs. Second, authors explored neurological roots of synesthesia to explain the phenomenon of creativity in novelists, poets, and painters (Ramachandran & Hubbard, 2003). Finally, study of synesthesia has the potential to offer greater insight into emergence and evolution of language.

Thoughts on the Subject

For the most part, I tended to assume that others perceived the world pretty much as I did when it came to sensory perception of visual objects. One exception that I was aware of was colorblindness since I had an acquaintance who suffered from it. I realize that there are always differences in how the same object is perceived both by educated and uneducated, happy and unhappy as well as people whose socioeconomic status and previous experience are different. However, I tend to think that despite the influence of aforementioned factors on perception, the majority of people see things pretty much the same. The article by Ramachandran and Hubbard (2003) about synesthesia made me reconsider to some degree my previous point of view. Although this condition affects only one person out of two hundred people, the number of individuals with synesthesia may be considered as high. It seems that anyone is likely to meet at least few people with synesthesia during the course of his or her life.

Read more about Research Paper Writing Help for Any Student. Feel free to order your paper from Essays-Services and forget about your worries.

I think that it is possible to study consciousness objectively despite there exist individual differences in perception. There are exceptions to nearly every phenomenon, rule, or the law of nature. Therefore, the fact that five people out of thousand have deviations in how they perceive sounds and numbers does not dismiss the validity of studies of sensory perception of the vast majority of individuals. However, the article taught me to be more understanding and considerate towards other peoples differences and health needs. It appears that there may be rare conditions that affect peoples perception or reaction to numbers or sounds. Consequently, these people may have different reactions or act in a way that I may find hard to understand or be tempted to consider abnormal. Thus, I should not make hasty conclusions or be judgmental in my reactions or evaluations of others who behave in the way that I find difficult to explain or understand.

The studies of synesthesia phenomenon can tell us some important things about sensory perception. First, there are sensory perception-related issues that need further studies. It appears that sciences have much more to discover about inner mechanisms and hidden capabilities of the human brain. Second, existence of synesthesia indicates that there may be other kinds of blending of senses when cross activation of different parts of the brain occurs in response to ones receiving atypical signals. Third, studies of synesthesia can reveal how differences in languages are responsible for differences in mentality. Fourth, phenomenon of synesthesia shows that there is hidden brain dynamic that may explain the evolution of language and origins of metaphor and abstract thinking. Finally, study of synesthesia may show whether there is an association between physiological development and language development. Therefore, further investigation of the condition may provide clues to solving brain-related issues and indicate new directions for future studies.

Related essays