07/18/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Smelling Orange: The Interconnected Realm Of Synesthesia

You've probably heard Mondays referred to as "blue" or a brightly colored shirt as "loud." For most people, these descriptions are figurative. Mondays don't really conjure a turquoise haze, and shirts don't emit high-pitched screeches. But for some people, called synesthetes, such cross-sensory experiences are quite literal.

When Carol Steen, now in her sixties, was a girl growing up in Detroit, she used to walk home from elementary school with a friend. One day, perhaps after a lesson in spelling or an exercise in handwriting, seven-year-old Steen asked her classmate, "Isn't the letter "A" the prettiest pink? Her classmate, in the way only kids can, wrinkled her nose and pronounced Steen "weird."

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