A stroke has left a Toronto man with an unusual side effect: the ability to "taste" color.
Detailed in a study in the journal Neurology, researchers from St. Michael's Hospital in Canada explained the case of a man who developed synesthesia around nine months after experiencing a stroke. Synesthesia is a condition where people can "see" or "hear" things that traditionally cannot be seen or heard, such as tastes or smells.
Researchers said that this is only the second known case of a person developing synesthesia after brain injury.
The man, who declined to have his name released, explained in a video produced by St. Michaels that "raspberries, to me, taste like the color blue. And it's that specific color blue, and if I see that specific color blue, I can taste raspberries."
Dr. Tom Schweizer, who is the director of the Neuroscience Research Program at the hospital's Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, analyzed the man's brain using functional MRI in order to see how it differed from those who don't have synesthesia by comparing brain activity to that of six men who were of similar age and education level.
All of the men underwent the brain scans while doing different activities, including listening to the James Bond theme song, as well as a euphonium solo. Researchers found that when the man with synesthesia listened to the James Bond theme song, there was activation in the thalamus, hippocampus and auditory cortex regions of the brain. Researchers noted that the auditory cortex plays a role in sound, the hippocampus plays a role in memory and spatial navigation, and the thalamus serves as a switchboard.
"The areas of the brain that lit up when he heard the James Bond Theme are completely different from the areas we would expect to see light up when people listen to music," Schweizer explained the statement. "Huge areas on both sides of the brain were activated that were not activated when he listened to other music or other auditory stimuli and were not activated in the control group."
Talk Nerdy To Me's Cara Santa Maria previously explained that synesthesia affects up to 4 percent of people, and is usually considered an inherited trait.
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Avoid Drugs Known To Raise Blood Pressure
"Hypertension is by far the most potent risk factor for stroke, caus[ing] a two-to four-fold increase in the risk of stroke before age 80," according to <a href="http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/preventing_stroke.htm#Treatable Risk Factors">National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke</a>. Unfortunately, regular usage of drugs like Acetaminophen (tylenol), and <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blood-pressure/MY00256">anti-depressants</a> like Venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR), Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL), Desipramine (Norpramin) and Phenelzine (Nardil), can increase one's risk of hypertension.
Eat More Potassium
Last year a study published in the journal "<a href="http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2011/07/28/STROKEAHA.111.622142">Stroke</a>," indicated that a potassium rich diet is associated with lower stroke risk. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, counteract the effects of sodium, and maintains your body's fluid balance. Potassium rich foods include white beans, spinach, potatoes, apricots, banana and avocados.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Drinking a large amount of caffeine temporarily raises your blood pressure by blocking a "hormone that keeps your blood vessels widened, allowing blood to easily flow through them," according to the <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blood-pressure/MY00256">Mayo Clinic</a>. While there isn't sufficient evidence to prove that caffeine increases your risk of stroke long-term, doctors recommend limiting your daily caffeine in take to the equivalent of two, <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blood-pressure/MY00256">12-ounce cups of coffee</a>.
Cigarette smoking has been linked to the build-up of fatty substances "in the carotid artery, the main neck artery supplying blood to the brain," according to the <a href="http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/preventing_stroke.htm#Treatable Risk Factors">National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke</a>. The blocking of this artery is the leading cause of stroke among Americans.
Avoid Foods That Are High In Cholesterol
High cholesterol causes the build up of plaque in your arteries, blocking blood flow to the brain, according to the <a href="http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=cholesterol">National Stroke Association</a>. Foods high in cholesterol include egg yolk, fatty meats, butter and cream.
Exercising regularly reduces your risk of obesity, diabetes and hypertension - conditions that are all associated with stroke risk.