Synaesthesia linking concepts with scenes – maybe not so hard to explain, and maybe not really so strange?

I have recently been reading the chapter about synaesthesia in V. S. Ramachandran’s latest book about neuroscience, and among many other interesting things Ramachandran explained that some simple concepts are processed in the temporal lobes. This is the general part of the brain that I believe is hyper-developed or hyper-connected in my case, and it is the part of the brain in which the fusiform gyrus is located, where the recognition of faces, bodies, scenes, numbers and words is done, and colour is processed. I know as the result of testing that I have an above-average ability in face recognition, possibly in the super-recognizer class, and I also experience types of synaesthesia that involve faces, scenes, colours, words, letters and numbers, so I think I’m on solid ground when I assert that there is something interesting about my fusiform gyrus. Like many synaesthetes I also experience synaesthesia triggered by listening to music, and I believe that appreciating music has an unusual prominence in the lives of me and some of my synaesthete relatives. This type of thing is thought to be associated with the temporal lobes which do auditory processing among many other things, so I believe that whatever is different about my fusiform gyrus or (gyri?) is not limited to it but extends into the temporal lobes. So I was particularly interested that the processing of simple concepts goes on in the temporal lobe, because another type of synaesthesia that I experience links concepts with visual scenes which are processed in the fusiform gyrus in the temporal lobes. If these concepts are also processed in the temporal lobes, that would be another type of synaesthesia of mine that is a purely intra-temporal lobe phenomenon, and therefore a scientific explanation of many of the synaesthesia experiences of mine could be explained in one very short phrase; bushy temporal lobes. But I’m not completely sure that the types of concepts that my mind links with scenes are the same type of thing that goes on in the temporal lobes. This is the passage from page 104 of the book The Tell-Tale Brain by V. S. Ramachandran:

“Brain damage can make a person lose the ability to name tools but not fruits and vegetables, or only fruits and not tools, or only fruits but not vegetables. All of these concepts are stored close to one other in the upper parts of the temporal lobes, but clearly they are sufficiently separated so that a small stroke can knock out one but leave the others intact. You might be tempted to think of fruits and tools as perceptions rather than concepts, but in fact two tools – say, a hammer and saw – can be visually as dissimilar from each other as they are from a banana; what unites then is a semantic understanding about their purpose and use.”

This is a list of some of the concepts that are involved with the concept->scene synaesthesia of mine:
the concept of a bad “state housing” area that one could conceivably find one’s self living in if one’s life went to hell
the concept of Charles Darwin
the concept of Charles Darwin coming to terms with the death of a child
the concept of adoption
the concept of doing one’s own tax return
the concept of cooking with lard
the concept of Bettina Arndt
the concept of the toy the sketch-a-graph.

These concepts aren’t quite as simple as the conceptual categories of “fruits” or “tools”. Is this really the same type of conceptual thinking as that described by Ramachandran? I really don’t know. Maybe I would have more of a clue if I could find the time to read through an interesting-looking paper that I have found on the internet; The Representation of Object Concepts in the Brain by
Alex Martin. I’ve had a quick look at the paper, and I have spotted a couple of interesting things on page 32, a truly amazing misspelling of the word “synaesthete” and what appears to be confirmation that different types of grapheme -> colour synaesthesia involve different parts of the brain. I’m betting that my grapheme -> colour synaesthesia involves the ventral temporal cortex rather than sites in the occipital cortex, because for me the colours of the alphabet are experienced as knowledge of the colours of letters more than a perception of the colours of letters. This doesn’t make the experience any less real or specific. I can still “see” the colours very clearly in my mind’s eye.

I’ve had some thoughts about my concept -> scene and scene -> concept synaesthesia, and I think it could be the case that it only seems to be a strange and nonsensical way of thinking because it has been taken out of the context in which it evolved, and placed into this abstracted, complex, high-speed modern world that we live in. As I have previously observed, often there is a semantic relationship between the place seen in the scene and the concept, and sometimes the scene is of a place that I visited or frequented during the period of time when I was introduced to the concept or was thinking intensively about that concept. This would appear to be a completely useful and sensible way to think, with a thought triggering a real and visible scene illustrating and spatially locating the concept. Maybe a pre-historic human thinking with this type of synaesthesia might experience an appetite for a particular type of seafood, and then in her mind, helpfully, in response to the concept of that specific type of seafood, flashes the scene of the exact beach where she previously went hunting successfully for that particular seafood delicacy. I’ve had a little bit of experience hanging out with fishermen who knew what they were doing, and I know that catching a fish often requires knowing and doing exactly the correct thing – being in the right place at the right time with exactly the right bait and tackle for the specific thing that you are hunting. Casual attitudes and fuzzy thinking don’t get results. The exact nature of synaesthesia seems to fit in with this type of task. In the stable, predictable world of the hunter-gatherer in which there isn’t much abstract thinking to complicate life, this type of synaesthesia could possibly be a most useful tool of the mind, retrieving memories of exact locations just when they are required. One has to wonder if this type of thinking would have been so useful that everyone should have evolved to have it. Was synaesthesia the norm rather than the exception in early humans? Is my mind an atavism, or could it be a souvenir of a liaison between Homo sapiens and the Neanderthal race? Or is it true that this phenomenon isn’t synaesthesia at all, but a completely normal synaesthesia-like thing that is so ordinary that people don’t notice or discuss it?

Having a mind that automatically connects concepts with scenes might have been a very useful and sensible thing in the early times of our species, but when we link concepts with scenes in a mind that is living in the modern industrialized world, things can start to look a bit weird, because there has been an explosion of more abstract thought and complex learning, bringing with it a massive range of possible concepts to think about. In prehistoric times there were no tax returns or underclass suburbs or female sex therapists with gruff voices and high media profiles. It’s a strange old world that we live in, and as synaesthesia involves our thoughts and perceptions of this world, it should probably look just as strange.

References

A brief report on my synaesthesia experiences that involve concepts as triggers or evoked experiences https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/a-brief-report-on-my-synaesthesia-experiences-that-involve-concepts-as-triggers-or-evoked-experiences/

Martin, Alex The Representation of Object Concepts in the Brain. Annual Review of Psychology. 2007. 58:25–45.
First published online September 1, 2006.
The Annual Review of Psychology is online at http://psych.annualreviews.org
This article’s doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.57.102904.190143
http://psychology.stanford.edu/~jlm/pdfs/MartinAnnRevPsych07.pdf

Ramachandran, V. S. The tell-tale brain: unlocking the mystery of human nature. William Heinemann, 2011.

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Comments

  • Nick  On June 15, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Hi,

    I found your blog after scouring the internet for an hour looking for some sort of explanation or name for a phenomenon I assumed to be completely normal up until a couple years ago, this “concept->scene synaesthesia”. I’ve experienced this for as long as I can remember but wasn’t aware that it was unusual until I brought it up with some family friends who had no idea what I was talking about. I associate a very large number of thoughts/concepts/people/websites with very specific places. It feels very automatic and natural, and the majority of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It’s like something ingrained in muscle memory, like the mechanics of walking or breathing- it often goes unnoticed unless I really try to notice and recall the places I’m mentally transported to.

    Examples:

    Economics- A street near a carpet store in a valley just south of where I’m currently living

    Homeopathy- Intersection at the top of a nearby hill, facing south

    Concept->Scene Synaesthesia, your blog- Intersection just down the street, facing west

    The places are usually on streets and involve me facing a specific direction. Lately, some of them have developed as places within my University. I think almost every complex thought I have has a place association, but I can’t usually consciously remember them unless I was just thinking of them or I told someone about the association. The memory fades quickly like a dream, and it’s something I do so constantly that I’ve ignored it until recently. There are some very key places that I use for very broad ideas (such as politics) or multiple ideas. Others I use only for a single, very specific concept (such as the pseudoscience of homeopathy).

    I think my short-term (what happened today/yesterday) and long term memory (what happened several years ago) are actually below average. My “mid-term” memory is very strong, however, letting me accurately recall things I learned a few months ago. Useful for boosting my GPA. 🙂

    Anyway, it’s great to find someone else who experiences the same thing I do. I haven’t yet been able to find anything on this aside from your blog. Are there any other websites you know of with information?

  • C. Wright  On June 15, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Great to get your comment, Nick! I was most amused to read that the concept of my blog has an associated scene. I do hope that my blog will be a busy intersection of interesting new ideas. 🙂 Its fascinating that our experiences have a number of features in common.

    Have you read the comments from the Edinburgh engineer/computer programmer here?
    https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/invitation-for-comments/

    and these interesting web sites from Texas? https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/another-case-of-synaesthesia-linking-scenes-and-concepts-from-austin-in-texas/

    I really don’t know if our experiences are rare or dead common. I just know that I haven’t seen this stuff described elsewhere even though I’ve read a fair amount of stuff about synaesthesia, and I’m sure this thing works like synaesthesia and is synaesthesia, which suggests that it wouldn’t be any more common than synaesthesia, which only a minority of people have, apparently. Do you have synaesthesia in any form? Do letters have colours or do you think of the months of the year in particular spatial locations? Do you experience the memory phenomenon that I’ve named IMLM?

    I can’t advise how common our experiences are, but at least we are collectively describing the concept->scene synaesthesia phenomenon. You wrote: “The places are usually on streets and involve me facing a specific direction.” My evoked memories of scenes are also experienced from a very specific direction – these are static memories of very specific visual scenes, not imagined fantasies, not memories of events with images that move, not vague memories of past visits. Are these experiences purely visual for you? Or do you experience remembered sounds or smells of places as well as vision? For me it is only vision. If you take a close look at the Texas websites, you will see that there are arrows on the maps, showing that the Texan’s experiences are also of scenes viewed from a specific direction. It is also a hallmark of synaesthesia that the sensory experiences evoked are very, very specific, and this is true of our concept->scene experiences. My scenes are sometimes views seen from moving vehicles or carparks, while yours seem to be scenes that were viewed and memorized when walking. I think this could be just a reflection of our different lifestyles.

    You also wrote: “I think almost every complex thought I have has a place association, but I can’t usually consciously remember them unless I was just thinking of them or I told someone about the association. The memory fades quickly like a dream, and it’s something I do so constantly that I’ve ignored it until recently.”

    I don’t know if all of the concepts in my mind trigger scenes. Many definitly do. Like yourself, the scenes fade away from consciousness very quickly and are barely above the level of conscious awareness. I think this is evidence supporting my belief that synaesthesia is what is known as a “threshold phenomenon”. The thing that I wrote about in the first post in this blog is for sure a threshold phenomenon. Some types of synaesthesia are not like this, for example my coloured letters and numbers. I can “see” these in my mind at will and hold the image long enough to take careful note of the exact colours, but I have other types of syanesthesia that are much more dynamic and uncontrollable. I believe this is a reflectinon of the different properties of the different parts of the brain affected by synaesthesia. I have a while ago described some of this stuff in communication with a synaesthesia researcher, and I noted that I thought this type of thing has not previously been described because it is so easy to fail to notice, because the scenes flash by so quickly, and the thing could easily be regarded as simply the stuff of the stream of consciousness. If this is what our stream of consciousness is like, then what is the stream of consciousness of a non-synaesthete person like?

    You appear to regard homeopathy as a bunkum, and you refer to “my university”, so I guess you are a smart and also quite rational person (smart people can be irrational I’ve found, I know some very smart people who use homeopathy, which baffles me). The man from Edinburgh is also clearly very smart with a technical mind (with an autistic close relative), and a quick glance at the concepts listed by the Texan seem to indicate that this also is a person who is most intelligent and likely to be a computer technology professional. So, to date this concept->scene experience has been reported by mostly highly intelligent and technically-minded people. I myself have a B. Applied Science and I have an engineer and some other brainy people in my family, and clearly I’m very interested in science. So, is this phenomenon genuinely linked to being smart in a technical/rational kind of way, or is there just a self-selection bias effect going on here? Are only technical and smart people interested enough to think and write about this stuff, while lots of other people have the experience but think nothing of it? I believe that generally it is women who tend to report psychological phenomena to researchers more than males, so I think this could be a genuine link, because it seems to go against that biasing self-report effect. I think it is also interesting that two of the four “super-recognizers” described in the first journal paper about super-recognizers were a male computer programmer and a female PhD student, and I have a high level of ability in face recognition. A male computer programmer is hardly the type of person that fits the stereotype of a person who is very clever with faces, a very social skill.

    If it is true that the concepts->scenes thing is uncommon and is also associated with above-average intelligence then I think that would lead to questions about how to regard the phenomenon. Is every thing that isn’t normal a problem? I don’t think so.

    One last question – do you think there is any logical or temporal link between your concepts and the scenes that they evoke?

  • Nick  On June 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    “Have you read the comments from the Edinburgh engineer/computer programmer here?
    https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/invitation-for-comments/

    and these interesting web sites from Texas? https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/another-case-of-synaesthesia-linking-scenes-and-concepts-from-austin-in-texas/
    ___

    That’s very interesting. I can relate to the tight cluster on the Texan’s map. There are a few key places where I associate several different concepts with different directions I picture myself facing. I’m also a bit surprised something as odd as homeopathy is also mapped out for him.
    ___

    “Do you have synaesthesia in any form? Do letters have colours or do you think of the months of the year in particular spatial locations? Do you experience the memory phenomenon that I’ve named IMLM?”
    ___

    No, I don’t experience any other synaethesic symptoms. In fact, before today it hadn’t occurred to me that this might be considered synaesthesia, seeing as it relates to concepts and settings rather than raw senses. I don’t think that I experience IMLM. Of course there are some places that evoke a certain emotion or memory, but not to the extent that you’ve described. I think the thought->place association only works one way for me.
    ___

    “My evoked memories of scenes are also experienced from a very specific direction – these are static memories of very specific visual scenes, not imagined fantasies, not memories of events with images that move, not vague memories of past visits. Are these experiences purely visual for you? Or do you experience remembered sounds or smells of places as well as vision? For me it is only vision. If you take a close look at the Texas websites, you will see that there are arrows on the maps, showing that the Texan’s experiences are also of scenes viewed from a specific direction. It is also a hallmark of synaesthesia that the sensory experiences evoked are very, very specific, and this is true of our concept->scene experiences. My scenes are sometimes views seen from moving vehicles or carparks, while yours seem to be scenes that were viewed and memorized when walking. I think this could be just a reflection of our different lifestyles. ”
    ___

    The scenes are purely visual. It’s kind of a backdrop for me, a place I inhabit within my own head when I’m concentrating on something and not actively viewing the outside world.

    I rarely walk around town. I’ve had jobs delivering pizzas and with those companies that will drive you home in your car if you’ve been drinking. Couple this with the driving I do just for fun, and I’ve spent a lot of time on the road for someone my age. My scenes are rarely viewed at an angle that can be seen from a car, however. Usually my perspective is suspended above the ground, in the middle of an intersection at an odd angle, or from the grass/sidewalk near the road. They’re places I frequently drive by, but they aren’t a direct memory from my view inside the car.
    ___

    “So, is this phenomenon genuinely linked to being smart in a technical/rational kind of way, or is there just a self-selection bias effect going on here? Are only technical and smart people interested enough to think and write about this stuff, while lots of other people have the experience but think nothing of it?”
    ___

    I don’t want to blow my own horn too much, but I’m certainly smart by most measures. I was found to have a high IQ as a young child (though I’m skeptical about any attempt to accurately measure one’s intelligence, it is interesting that I scored most highly on the spatial reasoning sections) and am near the top of my class in my Policy Studies degree. I don’t consider my skills to be especially technical, but I do pride myself on being a very rational person.

    That said, I’m also very introspective. I think it’s plausible that many more people have these thought patterns and don’t realize it consciously.
    ___

    “If it is true that the concepts->scenes thing is uncommon and is also associated with above-average intelligence then I think that would lead to questions about how to regard the phenomenon. Is every thing that isn’t normal a problem? I don’t think so.”
    ___

    It doesn’t feel as though they hinder me OR help me in any way. Unlike traditional synesthetes which seem to have very specific inducing and concurrent stimuli, only my scenes are specific. Because the concepts themselves can be broad, I don’t get the sense that my memory is enhanced at all by it.

    I’ve never considered it a problem. How boring would it be to be completely “normal”?
    ___

    “One last question – do you think there is any logical or temporal link between your concepts and the scenes that they evoke?”
    ___

    A couple scenes are tied to thoughts in a very obvious way. I find myself above the entrance hall to my school’s Student’s Association whenever I think of the Students Association, for example. On one or two occasions I noticed that I associated thoughts with places I had driven through when I was first thinking about the concept.

    Usually I can’t make any logical link. They’re seemingly random streets and intersections that I haven’t driven through in weeks or months when I notice myself using them.

  • C. Wright  On June 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Nick wrote:
    “…I don’t experience any other synaethesic symptoms.”
    I’ll give you a friendly tip, Nick. It can be seen as a bit politically incorrect to use medical terminology like “symptom” in reference to synaesthesia. Synaesthetes don’t consider synesthesia to be a disorder, and most researchers seem to agree. But we can generally see that it is indeed pretty weird.

    “The scenes are purely visual. It’s kind of a backdrop for me, a place I inhabit within my own head when I’m concentrating on something and not actively viewing the outside world.”

    So would you say that sensory input from stuff that is happening around you over-rides these internally-generated sensations?

    “My scenes are rarely viewed at an angle that can be seen from a car, however. Usually my perspective is suspended above the ground, in the middle of an intersection at an odd angle, or from the grass/sidewalk near the road. They’re places I frequently drive by, but they aren’t a direct memory from my view inside the car.”

    So your scenes cannot be literal visual memories of scenes? Interesting. This is a definite difference between our experiences. I have always thought my scenes are like photographic memories of scenes that I’ve seen.

    “It doesn’t feel as though they hinder me OR help me in any way. Unlike traditional synesthetes which seem to have very specific inducing and concurrent stimuli, only my scenes are specific. Because the concepts themselves can be broad, I don’t get the sense that my memory is enhanced at all by it.”

    Synaesthesia researchers and some synaesthetes seem to be stuck on the idea that the synaesthesia experiences themselves may be an aid to memory. I think it is much more likely that the brain differences that give rise to the synaesthesia could also give rise to higher IQ, better memory, different memory or specific intellectual gifts. I’ve been meaning to get around to writing a posting summarizing the research about this, for a long time.

    “They’re seemingly random streets and intersections that I haven’t driven through in weeks or months when I notice myself using them.”

    Do you think the scenes are from some archival part of the brain that stores old visual memories that you don’t use much any more? Some of my interesting experiences seem to involve this type of memory. Perhaps this could explain why both you and the person from Texas both have this type of experience in relation to the concept of homeopathy. For me homeopathy is a quaint concept that I only need to know about, but which isn’t a part of my life, because I think it is bunkum.

    “How boring would it be to be completely “normal”?”

    It just doesn’t bear thinking about!

  • Nick  On June 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    “I’ll give you a friendly tip, Nick. It can be seen as a bit politically incorrect to use medical terminology like “symptom” in reference to synaesthesia. Synaesthetes don’t consider synesthesia to be a disorder, and most researchers seem to agree. But we can generally see that it is indeed pretty weird.”

    Didn’t mean for it to sound negative, I was just lacking a better word there.

    “So would you say that sensory input from stuff that is happening around you over-rides these internally-generated sensations?”

    Yes. When I concentrate on a topic, I kind of stop sensing what’s going on around me. I’m not really devoting any attention to feeling, hearing, or even seeing the outside world, and that’s when the scene kind of takes over. It’s only secondary to reality, though. I snap out of it very easily if something visual happens in front of me or someone speaks to me. As soon as my attention shifts to external stimulus, I’m no longer thinking of, say, Economics, and the place association is broken.

    “So your scenes cannot be literal visual memories of scenes? Interesting. This is a definite difference between our experiences. I have always thought my scenes are like photographic memories of scenes that I’ve seen.”

    I have a pretty vivid internal map of the areas around me. I think what I’m seeing is more the essence of the place, the sense that I have of it in my mind which has been built by seeing it so many times.

    “Do you think the scenes are from some archival part of the brain that stores old visual memories that you don’t use much any more? Some of my interesting experiences seem to involve this type of memory. Perhaps this could explain why both you and the person from Texas both have this type of experience in relation to the concept of homeopathy. For me homeopathy is a quaint concept that I only need to know about, but which isn’t a part of my life, because I think it is bunkum.”

    No, my scenes tend to “expire” after awhile. The concept->scene associations are consistent in the short term, but they can change overtime. I’ve noticed that if I haven’t thought of a concept in a long time AND I haven’t physically visited my scene place, the concept can latch onto a different scene. Some new ones are also created if I move to a different town or am away at University.

    Most of my concepts are relevant to my life or my schoolwork. I only seem to experience this phenomenon with topics I’ve thought a lot about, whether over months or in a concentrated spurt in an afternoon. Homeopathy is only memorable because I spent an afternoon researching it (baffled that anyone could buy into it) and by the end I consciously noticed that I had built a very strong place association with it. I believe I tried to find information about concept->scene synaesthasia later that day but couldn’t find anything.

  • C. Wright  On June 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    It’s interesting that our experiences are similar but not identical. Many thanks for taking the time to describe this stuff, Nick.

  • Luis  On July 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Concept->Scene Synaesthesia… So it does have a name!

    I also have this “sympton”, but I didn’t think it was special until a couple years ago: I was talking to my then-girlfriend and asked “where does your mind go when you are studying law?”. Se was like “what?”

    In my case there are some differences from both of you (Nick and C.Wright):
    – There are not many places my mind goes to. Maybe between 6 or 7 places. And those places are strongly related to my childhood, to when I was around 10.
    – I never thought about the direction of the the visual image of the space, but in my case I think the image is more vague and refers to certain areas. For example, one is a park, as it was when I was little, It has changed since then, but I still picture it the same.
    – Most of the time I don’t realize my mind is going to a place, for me, it is similar to the transition from awake to asleep. Suddenly you find yourself there, but you don’t know how you got there.

    On the other hand, It is stunning to read about your other mental characteristics, as I find in myself many of those patterns: I also have a high IQ, but mostly due to my spacial and logic capabilities (I have a very bad short term memory, and I was not a very good student). I also find it very easy to remember faces, which is often awkward as I always know whom I run into if we have met before, and sometimes they don’t recognize me.

    After reading all of this I have been thinking that maybe other brain features are relared, so I feel the need to ask you about other “peculiarities”.

    For instance, I am ambidextrous and I have a very good sense of direction (I can always tell where the north or the coast is). I can also write upside down (so someone in front of me can read it) and in mirror style (from right to left).

    BTW, C.Wright, I will keep reading your blog, looks interesting.

  • C. Wright  On July 15, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Thanks for your comment Luis! Right now I’m in the middle of a nasty cleaing job, but I’ll take a good look at this soon. So far I think I’m the only female reporting having concept->scene synaesthesia.

    Have you had a go at the Cambridge Face Memory Test? I think it is one of the tests that are offered at the second choice at this page:

    http://www.testmybrain.org/

    and I’m pretty sure it’s still accessible from here too, but I’ve never completed it at this site:

    http://facetoface.mit.edu/

    It was once offered free on the internet thru faceblind.org on it’s own but not any more it appears.

  • C. Wright  On July 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Goodness gracious me, I’ve been so busy lately.

    Some questions and comments about the comment by Luis:

    “Most of the time I don’t realize my mind is going to a place, for me, it is similar to the transition from awake to asleep. Suddenly you find yourself there, but you don’t know how you got there.”

    So Luis, would you say the appearance of the scene is automatic? This appears to satisfy the criteria for synaesthesia that synaesthesia is an experience triggered automatically and without intention or mental effort.

    “I also find it very easy to remember faces, which is often awkward as I always know whom I run into if we have met before, and sometimes they don’t recognize me.”

    This sounds like an experience typical of a super-recognizer, as described in the paper on the subject by Russell, Duchaine and Nakayama.

    “I also have a high IQ, but mostly due to my spacial and logic capabilities (I have a very bad short term memory, and I was not a very good student).”

    I know about my IQ from looking at my old high school records. It’s not astronomical, but above average. I’m not sure how my short-term memory stacks up, but I suspect that I’m more distractable in some situations than most people. In primary school I apparently had a reputation as a daydreamer, and if I was a child today could be regarded as “ADHD”. But at the same time, I can concentrate very well if interested.

    I’m right-handed and I think my sense of direction is pretty good. I’ve never tried writing upside-down. Many thanks for your comment!

    • Luis  On December 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      Sorry for the late reply C. wright. I forgot about my post until I got an alert from Anna’s comment below. To your questions:

      -Yes, the scenes do appear automatically, but mostly when I am doing intellectually demanding tasks (the frequency increased substantially over the last year, as I spent it doing postgraduate studies at Imperial College).

      – I remember taking the cambridge face memory test and scoring 85 percentile, which I don’t think is so remarkable, but there is that.

      • C. Wright  On December 7, 2013 at 12:47 am

        Thanks Luis. If you got 85% I think that would be just above average (percent and percentile being different on this test, which is I presume the short 72 question version).

  • C. Wright  On July 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    You might be wondering why I am so interested in documenting and naming the various types of synaesthesia that I experience which appear to have never been reported scientifically or anecdotally before, experiences such as concept -> scene synaesthesia, fine motor task -> scene synaesthesia and The Strange Phenomenon. You might also be wondering why I’m so excited to find that there are other people who report experiences that seem to fall into the category of concept -> scene synesthesia. These three types of synaesthesia are, I believe, of scientific importance because they are indeed synaesthesia, but they also violate the third criteria for identifying synaesthesia that was stated years ago by the US neurologist and pioneer of synesthesia science, Richard Cytowic. Cytowic’s list of synaesthesia criteria can be seen at the Wikipedia’s article about synaesthesia. Criteria number three is thus:

    “3.Synesthetic percepts are consistent and generic (i.e., simple rather than pictorial).”

    My experiences of concept -> scene synaesthesia, fine motor task -> scene synaesthesia and The Strange Phenomenon range from very consistent to fairly consistent, but the visual synaesthesia experiences triggered in these types of synaesthesia are most certainly not “generic” or simple. These are most certainly pictorial experiences, they are visual memories of landscape scenes and of one particular face.

    I’m not too alarmed that I have synaesthesia experiences that don’t appear to conform to some rules of synaesthesia definition, because as I’ve seen during the years that I’ve been reading about this fascinating neurological condition, the definition of synaesthesia has been changing a lot over the years, and is still in the process of evolution and scientific development, as is abundantly clear from Dr Julia Simner’s recent journal paper about defining synaesthesia. I find this all most fascinating!

  • Anna  On December 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Hi all, my name is Anna and I am an UK based PhD researcher looking for super-recognizers for my eye-movement research. If you live in UK and would be interested in taking part, please contact me. Our lab will cover your travel expenses and reimburse you for your time. Contact details are available here-http://staffprofiles.bournemouth.ac.uk/display/abobak Cheers, Anna

  • C. Wright  On December 7, 2013 at 12:54 am

    I just gave myself a strange experience when I quickly read thru the list of concepts that evoke scenes as synaesthesia concurrents in this post. As i thought of each concept different scenes flashed into my in quick succession. One second I see Myaree in the 1990s, the next I see a shop in the earliest version of The Grove shopping centre from the 1970s. It was like a slide show gone berserk.

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