How is it possible to hear color and taste sounds?
Science & Tech / /
Ever wandered the taste of your name? Synesthesia is a rare neurological condition which causes individuals to feel the taste of names when pronounced or to hear colors due to senses entwine.
Synesthesia is a mysterious condition where one sense consistently mingles with another. In the recent time, scientists have identified genes that might be responsible for this condition. Such researches offered better understanding of disorders such as autism, which also is believed to involve kind of abnormal brain connections.
This condition is thought to be heritable, since it is noted that it frequently appears within the family. On the other side genomic researches couldn’t so far turn up individual responsible genes for it.
Among the new works in the field is the research lead by the neuroscientist Simon Fisher at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands. He and his team used a gene-sequencing technique that targets only the DNA that encodes proteins. Vrtually every significant DNA variant was cataloged in three families in which the condition is common. The sample consisted of four or five synesthetes and at least one nonsynesthete from each family, covering three generations.
As Sciencemag reports, there were found 37 genes that predicted inherited synesthesia, but no particular genetic variant was found in all three families, which confirms that there is no single “synesthesia gene” or set of genes. When examined closely a pattern was found: Six of the variants were in genes related in some way to the development of connections between neurons known as axons. What’s more, these genes are expressed in both the auditory and visual cortices of the brain during childhood development.
Those finding are interesting because previous studies of synesthetes have suggested that they might have an abnormally high number of neuronal connections, wheres the recent research suggests that an unusually high degree of connectivity in certain brain regions might predispose people to have synesthesia, which according to the authors is moving in the right direction.
Romke Rouw, a cognitive psychologist who studies synesthesia at the University of Amsterdam notes that matching abnormal traits such as synesthesia to genetic and brain variation is still prity new in the research field, and both genetic and neuroimaging studies will need to be reproved before hyperconnectivity theory, which is expected to be key, is accepted.