04/05/2012 07:58 am ET Updated Jun 04, 2012

Synesthesia: What Causes Mix-Up Of Senses? (VIDEO)

Synesthesia is a fascinating neurological condition that causes an individual (proudly called a synesthete) to experience perceptual information through a sense modality that is unlinked to its source. This is a fancy way of saying that synesthetes may hear colors, smell noises, taste shapes, and even feel flavors. This experience is both involuntary and stable over time. Around 100 different types of synesthesia have been documented, and the condition affects nearly four percent of the general population. Synesthesia is thought to be an inherited trait affecting areas of the brain that communicate sensory information to one another.

To learn more about synesthesia, I reached out to Steffie Tomson. Not only does Steffie study synesthesia in the Neuroscience Department of Baylor College of Medicine, but she is also a synesthete. Steffie has grapheme-color synesthesia, which means that she perceives letters and numbers (and even days and weeks) as having very specific colors associated with them.

Do you think you may have synesthesia? You can take a test at to find out. And if you do, you can become an active participant in ongoing science that aims to shed light on this remarkable condition. Watch the video above and/or click below to learn more. And don't forget to leave a comment. Talk nerdy to me!


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