What color are the numbers 0 through 9 and the letters A through Z?
This question will strike many as odd. After all, numbers and letters are usually black, and if they're colored, it's usually in an arbitrary fashion. But what if I told you that the number 2 is green, 4 is blue, 5 is red, C is yellow, and T is purple? You'd probably think I'm insane, but I'm not: I simply experience a phenomenon known as "synesthesia."
Here's a picture of what I mean. Note that the colors are approximate; some of the colors I "see" cannot be reproduced on the screen. Also note that someone else's colors will likely be completely different from mine.
According to Wikipedia, synesthesia "is a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway." In other words, people who experience synesthesia associate one stimulus with something that seems unrelated – like seeing each letter and number as having a specific color, seeing the numbers in different spatial locations, or "seeing" music.
I have associated colors with letters/numbers – grapheme-color synesthesia – for as long as I can remember. At first, I thought it was normal, but when everyone I mentioned this to just stared at me with a blank look, I realized that I had an unusual quality. It wasn't until recently that I actually found out that this phenomenon was called "synesthesia". After that, I realized that I had more forms of synesthesia than just grapheme-color.
What forms of synesthesia do I have?
My most prevalent form is grapheme-color synesthesia, which involves me associating a color with each letter. The interesting thing about my variant of it is that the color is usually associated with the form of the letter and not the sound. The English letter "B" and the Russian letter "В" (which has a "V" sound) are of the same color because they look identical, while the Russian letter "Б" (which has a "B" sound) has a different color. (Technical note: be sure to set your page's encoding to Unicode (UTF-8) to properly see the Russian characters.)
Another form is something I don't know the scientific name of but refer to as "spatial location synesthesia." This involves the number line for me, as well as the alphabet. It is difficult to explain, but I see the number 0 at the beginning of a real, physical sidewalk I walked down regularly as a young child; 20 is farther along this path, and 100 is even farther along, although the higher the numbers get, the more abstract the path becomes.
The alphabet is similarly seen as being above the whiteboard in my first grade classroom. A problem I have, though, is with months; I seem to have remembered the row of months in my classroom as well, with January on the far left and December on the far right, so I always think of months as being linear. This is quite inconvenient since I need to manually count 6 months down in order to figure out what the "opposite" time is. The interesting thing about the last 3 examples is that these seem to be learned stimuli – unlike the grapheme-color synesthesia where colors have been assigned since birth more or less (or so I say), I have actually seen the aforementioned items in real life.
Association of concepts
Someone once asked me a very good question:
If you see A as being red, what would happen if someone put a black "A" on a red background? Would the letter "disappear"?
The simple answer is "no." But to see why, we need to delve deeper into the concept of "color" in the first place.
"Color" is not a wavelength; rather, it is a concept which is associated with a certain stimulus, namely a certain wavelength of light entering the eye. Note that pure yellow light and a combination of red + green light are both associated with the color "yellow" in the brain. This also allows for the existence of colors that our eyes can never see; some of the colors of letters I see aren't reproducible on a computer screen.
Text is inherently colorless; this is why we are able to read black text on a white page and large red text on a blue billboard and get the same meaning out of it. But the synesthetic association with colors happens AFTER the textual processing takes place. Since the text itself carries no color information, the black letter A and red background it's rendered on are not present when the text is stored in the brain as such, there simply is no "red background" behind the red letter A.
You're probably thinking, "so, this is cool and all... but what is it good for?" Many things, actually. If you have synesthesia, you grow to appreciate the many small ways in which it helps you in your daily life.
I won first place in my junior high school's spelling bee in 7th grade, and I won third place in regional (just google my name). I've also been good at spelling, and particularly good about noticing proper spellings of certain similar-sounding words. I later realized that this was, in part, due to my synesthesia.
Let's take a common grammatical issue people have: "than" versus "then".
than versus then
The distinct color difference between "a" and "e", which is also remembered along with the word and its meaning, ensures that I will almost never mix up similar-sounding words. (Try to unfocus your eyes until you see each word as a blob of color, and notice how they look quite different even because of one letter.)
Practical applications of synesthesia
The concept of synesthesia can be applied to various things. Artificial synesthesia can be used for improving the usability of a user interface, or can even be used to prevent IDN homograph attacks (a method of phishing that replaces the letter "e" in "ebay.com" with its Cyrillic equivalent, for example, thus fooling the unsuspecting visitor into revealing personal information to a fake site). This would work if all similar-looking letters were colored differently; people would thus memorize the "color" of the URL as well as the name, and would be suspicious of improperly colored URLs. The two downsides of this is that it is difficult to standardize the colors, and it would drive us synesthetes crazy since our colors would end up being different.
How do people get it?
Apparently, synesthesia runs in families. Both of my parents report some sort of synesthetic experiences – from a spatial number map to "seeing" different colors of music. In my experience, some forms of it (like each number having a color) came "naturally", while other forms (the number line being associated with a location) have their roots in events that happened in my childhood.
Do you experience any form of synesthesia, or do you know someone who does? Please state your experiences here... I would really like to know how others see things!
I see months in position on an oval, as if I were on a race track. It must have something to do with a childhood concept of elliptical orbit. I always have an image in my brain of where I am on the oval.
I remember entire sequences of events when I look at paintings I have done. When I look at a certain section, I can "hear" the music I was listening to, "smell" aromas that were in the place where I was painting and "hear" conversations that were taking place at that time, sometimes word for word. Not sure that's synesthesia, but it's a close runner-up if it isn't.
Synesthesia varies widely from person to person. Some people more or less see the color on the page, but others (like me) simply associate the colors later. I see a black letter "A" in front of me, but I think the same thing that I think when I see something I describe as "red".
As far as remembering the sequence of events, it's some sort of recall in your brain. I'm sure it has some term, but I'm a techie, not a psychologist, so I can't really tell you what it's called.
He has been suffering from a swollen vein in his skull, induced by stress. He is taking medication for this problem, including anti-inflammatories and steroids.
He is completely destroyed, and my heart's breaking for him. I don't know the name of his type of synesthesia, but he sees colours when he hears sounds, and associates colours to certain thoughts. My voice, for example, is light blue with gold in the middle, and thoughts of me are the same colours. He has exceptional audio perception.
If anyone can offer information on why his synesthesia could have disappeared and if he may ever get it back, please contact me. Thank you.
Don't take my word for it though. Ask a doctor or psychologist for an official explanation.
I've had synesthesia for as long as I can remember. I've "seen" sounds/music, voices and names have colors, a few smells have a color, and if I'm in pain, everything is tinted teal, and if I'm tickled, then bright flashes of light appear everywhere. A little over a year ago, I suffered from a concussion and slowly lost my ability to see names and voices. Lately, I've been dealing with the sudden and unexpected death of my best friend. All traces of Synesthesia have disappeared. Although you've probably figured out what's going on with your boyfriend, because this was several months ago, I have no idea what's going on. If you have any information, please share :) I feel empty and alone without my synesthesia.
My name is Lara
All together, Lara is black. Separate letters: L is light purple, A is pale yellow, and R is a dark rust/brick red.
...Also, what colors are the names Atiya, Emily, Alana, and Casey?
Here are the names:
Although it sounds like I do have it, if someone asked me what coliour there name was it would be black as I just see the individual letters as there colours? Does this mean I have synesthesia still? I'm pretty sure I do as when I explain it to people and they to look at me blankly I can't understand how they must think?
I experience voices in terms of color/texture as well, but no twitching. Medication would suck, but then so would a stroke. Maybe medication in the short-term wouldn't be so bad, compared to long-term damage.
But I also see gradations of color. Like the alphabet starts at "A", which in my mind starts as a pale yellow. The middle of the alphabet, say "M", is like a rusty brown, and the end of it, with "Z" comes to grayish blue. But no letter really has a color. It more of a black letter against a background of color. Numbers work the same way with the background of color as well as days of the week.
I wonder what it all means!!
@Ayala That's really cool!
BTW you can use the [color] tag to actually make the text change colors.
1 - transparant/white
2 - yellow
3 - lightblue
4 - orange
5 - lightgreen
6 - red
7 - light purple
8 - dark purple
9 - old pink
I also have this with letters, I just never really 'noticed' until I read this.. that's probably why I like names with both an 'a' and an 'i', because they're red and yellow in my mind, which is pretty. :D haha
@Tiny I don't even remember when I first noticed it, but it did seem natural to me at first and I didn't realize anything was unusual.
@Sami I agree. Synesthesia is awesome. Albeit mine isn't as strong as yours.
@Arianna It doesn't really mean anything -- it just means he/she associates your voice with a color, namely powder blue.
As for a vocabulary of colors, I am also unable to reproduce certain colors on screen that I "see" through synesthesia. This makes sense because "colors" are concepts within the brain -- they exist independently of the eye, and the brain simply associates certain input that comes in through the eye with the concept of a color. It's quite possible to experience colors that the eye can't see, at least in theory.
I usually tend to conceptualize voices as a pieces of ribbon because they are flexible, have texture, color, etc - all things that I usually experience when hearing a voice.
I usually like listening to music as I drift off to sleep, but cymbals crashing and loud music of any sort makes me anxious,not relaxed. I see these things in my whole field of vision, that is transparent mostly, so if the sounds are persistant and irritating, I get stressed. Most of the time I really enjoy live music performances, and some recorded music. But mostly recorded music has an "electric" feel that tastes like metal, and so I can only take so much of that. I love the sounds of Natures birds, crickets, etc much more!
For the "electronic" sounding music, have you tried listening on a high-end sound system, particularly one with a tube amplifier? I'd be very interested to know the result.
Is his amplifier solid-state (transistor) or tubed? Try listening to a tube amplifier if possible.
I personally love electronic music, so it's clearly different for me :P I do like my setup quite a bit!
Eve is black. Lillian is a very dark green.
P.S. Do you think of the letters in eve and Lillian together as being green and black, or the separate letters? What colors are the letters?
Let's see: altogether, Sara is a pale color, like ripe wheat. Separately, S is pale golden yellow, A is usually somewhere between white and pale yellow, and R is a rusty red.
E is a nice salmon color (though more orange than pink); V is a dark blue. L is usually a shade of purple (in this case dark; maybe cause there's 3 of them?); I, like A, is usually a pale color, very indistinct; though more pinkish than yellow. And N is a dark, woody brown.
I'm not sure why, but when letters are put together (such as in names) the word has a color all its own that trumps any of the separate letters. Though looking at the names you provided it could well be that my brain picks the most dominant letter colors and goes with a composite for words/names. But who knows...
Whenever i think of numbers, I see a kind of line thing with all the numbers on it. My viewpoint usually starts at zero and goes up to a hundred, but if the numbers are more or less than that it changes. Its mostly in grayscale, with significant numbers, like zero, five, ten etc and all the even numbers, which are all used more, in darker shades than the other numbers. So ten, zero, five and one hundred are the darkest.
Is this a form of synesthesia?
I also see months pretty much the same way, with significant days (birthdays, start and end of month, school holidays and christmas) all been darker, or more defined than the rest.
The week is seen the same too, with Saturday and Sunday darkest, Monday slightly darker than Tuesday, Wednesday the same as Monday, since its about the middle, and Friday darker than Thursday. If there's something important on that week, like no school, the days will be darker, but if its a birthday, it will almost be white.
Is this synesthesia?
Although I connect EVERYthing to some or other color. Events, people, numbers, music, sounds, etc...
I also experience the 'Spatial location synesthesia' with number lines, dates on the calendar, times and so forth. Only, those patrons in my mind is very difficult to explain to anyone. I'm the only one I know of with this phenomenon. Thank you for making this clear to me!!
it's a teal-ish color
its the same color as my friend's name which is "delara"
Im wondering if I possibly have synthesia
I "see" (in my "minds eye" sorta, it's sort of an involuntary visualization/thought) colors attached to words/letters. not all words/letters have colors though (usually names) for example, tori is light lime/yellowish green, gracie is a bright light orangey color, samuel is rusty deep-dark red, nora is a tropical orange/yellow, etc. but they are always very specific tones of color, and it sounds "wrong" to me for someone to say the name is another color, or for my mind to contradict itself, it's very consistant for each name, maybe just a few changes in tone over time, but that's it. ever since I can remember, I thought of people as color, so instead of the person when seeing, or remembering a thought of them, I always picture/think of their color, and sometimes I even forget their name and only remember their color. and thats also a way I get help remembering names.
songs also have colors, not just individual musical notes, like more than one note at least, it automatically just makes me picture a color, I almost just see it most of the time, but sometimes I actually see it physically.
My younger sister claims that she experiences similar thoughts about colors. Not every number/letter is the same for us, though; we occasionally get into these ridiculous debates about, say, whether 7 is yellow or green. She actually has ideas about the relationships between numbers (apparently, 1 and 2 are married), but I've never imagined about them this way.
Additionally, I have a few other questions:
1.) A rather large percentage of my numbers and letters are associated with a sort of sunny yellow color (I can think of c, d, f, n, y, 4, and 7 off the top of my head). The exact shade can vary a bit, but they're all very similar. Is this strange?
2.) Some letters and numbers can be colored differently, depending on when I'm thinking about them or how they're being used. Like, "x" can be either red or black. And certain capital letters are not the same colors as their lowercase counterparts. Does anyone else experience this?
3.) Sometimes, I mix up colors and letters (more so than colors and numbers). Like, I'll think to myself, "oh, this word is distinctly 'i'-colored", and then I'll realize that "i" is not actually a color. To me, "i" is bubblegum pink, but it's so clearly, overwhelmingly pink that the respective concepts of the color and the letter are almost synonymous in my mind. Does this seem normal?
So, yeah, if anyone can give me commentary on this, I will be enormously grateful. Thanks in advance!
1) Synesthesia as a whole is "strange" in that it's not the norm. But it sure is awesome :) I'm not sure why such a large proportion is yellow though.
2) This occasionally happens to me. The letter "Y" comes to mind -- normally it's a nice blue color as in the above example, but at times it turns tan or red.
For me "Yes" is red (since Y and S dominate), and "No" is green. This is a bit counter-intuitive when designing UIs since affirmations are usually green.
3) Occasionally happens to me as well. I remembered the code to a door with a keypad was "yellow and blue" but then realized that it contains 3 and 4.
But I saw the number as brown and white, and then that I tried to continue the lines and this was what I see:
61: brown n white
62: brown n pink
63: brown n yellow
64: brown n red
65: brown and green
66: brown n brown
67: brown n indigo
68: brown n purple
69: brown n maroon
60: brown n black
but the list become a bit different when it comes to 1-0
9 maroon - more into brown
Sometimes I can see colors in music, but not very often. Like for me, classical is brown. Jazz is blue. Pop is yellow.
but with the alphabet, I'm not really sure, just some of them. right now what I see is
A is red
B is blue
C is yellow
D is orange.. more into brown-orange
E is green
i is yellow/pale yellow/white
U is brown
T is dark blue
I think I also see some colors in words.. but they are just not that clear, I thought this is normal like everyone can do
so... is this synesthesia or not? because i think i only have a bit of the symptoms xD
I white, B is pale brown, E is pale lime green, L is brown, A is pink. and it's like soft, smooth brown or magenta swirls with some abit lime green leaves with broken white backgrounds
@The Queen of Putrescence
Your vision sounds nice. I hate mine; I picture "Isabella" as a sort of gold background studded with rubies around the a's and sapphires around the b. There's also a sort of lace-y effect. It's got this gaudy appearance, which I can't stand, and it doesn't fit me at all.
Thank you for your information! I think i might have synesthesia but a weird kind, i feel colors in my childhood memories, and in different kind of words i have like a feeling and describe it in my head as a colour, when i listen to music i really have a lot of colours in my head, it is very hard to describe but when i listen to music like jazz, i see warm colors (like red, brown, etc.) that move calm, same with blues but more with cold colours like blue and green. When i listen to dubstep i have a very unique feeling in my head, like a thousand colours rushing true my head, it is very hard to explain. I also feel a colour when talking to someone, this colour depends on the persons voice and appearance. I have experienced that this colours are effecting my choice of music, so am i liking the "colour" of rap music. I am a listener of old school rap and hip-hop sinds my childhood.
Should i see a doctor for this? Is there any change it will have a negative effect on my life later on? Should i get tested or something?
I apologise for my bad english, i tried my best.
While there *is* a tiny chance it will affect your life negatively, that's only if it's too strong and impossible to escape, two things yours seems not to be (it should be noted that the same thing can happen with normal senses, or pure memory, if it gets too strong). =) There's nothing wrong with it. It's only "abnormal" in that it's a minority. You don't need to get tested or see a doctor, don't worry! Unless you want to participate in research, but I don't think that's what you were asking. ;)
Hope I helped!
To concerned girlfriend and Salamander, losing your Synesthesia is perfectly normal in times of stress. I have color>Synesthesia and mine is affected by stress, caffeine, loudness/brightness. I have lost my Synesthesia for a short time and it always involves a sudden change. I've also read that age can play a part. The older you get the less you have. I would recommend reading "Mango Shaped Cat". It is a very simple read and interesting.
One question I do have is I tend to just experience my synesthesia with music. I don't get much from voices, or anything else. Does anyone else have that? Also, I can only see 2-3 colors: usually Green, Blue, and White. I hate White. It is in the way and usually there when I don't want it.
Your last letter - A, is like strawberry shortcake.
All together your name is Yellow.
While I do associate consonants with certain colors, I definitely feel that the connection between vowels and their respective hues is much stronger (often, an entire word is colored by a single vowel).
Whoa! I see it that way too!
I was just wondering about some associations I have when I hear voices. I always combine them with some sort of texture, like my little brother's got an angular voice while my mother's is round and a friend of mine has some kind of stripes in her voice. Is this something everybody feels or could it be called syesthesia?
Four has always been my fav. Number - probably because to me it is sunny and yellow and seems happy.
I dont see colors when I read, only when I "picture" a word or letter in my mind.
Monday is white
Tuesday is light blue
Wednesday is green
Thursday is darker blue
Friday is red
Saturday is green
Sunday is white
Similarly with words of each month, etc
My severe headaches, mostly occurring in my youth, were from what I would call over activity.
I still get incredible blinding headaches, but only in certain places. I had to leave a Blues Concert a couple years ago. Between the music, the emotion and suddenly feeling lost, my friends walked to some other area and I had not noticed.
By the time I made it to the door, I could barely see.
Fortunately, that doesn't happen much! ;)
As a kid though, seemed like once a week things would get to be too much. Somehow, I have either learned to deal with it or, it is not as strong. Maybe a little of both.
I found that the warmth and singularity of a hot shower, would most often relieve my headaches.
Not sure any of that makes sense. It does to me.
But I have a question: I don't physically see, or hear, any of this, just in my mind's eye. Except for the taste. I actually do taste that. Mostly, it's just like, I look at the color someone wrote their name and think, that color's wrong, or when they talk, I wince because their voice is, like, puke green. Little stuff like that. But I'm wondering if any people on this actually see, physically, anything, or if it's more of an impression in their mind, like me.Please help!
i also "see" number sequences and time units in shapes as well... not so much visually see but in my mind's eye. for instance 1950-2000 (the years) have a distinct pattern, but then 2001-2014 are different, and an hour looks different from a week looks different from a single year with the months. if anyone experiences the same thing, or knows the benefits of it, let me know! :)
It is like my brain doesn't more than one month at a time. Calendars that have months grouped together are overwhelming to me.
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