Friday, December 08, 2006

Lexical-Gustatory synaesthesia

Want a little mustard with that speech?

Have you wondered if people see colors differently? If my blue is your green? Have you thought about the possibility that in heaven, sights will have sounds or sounds will have tastes?

Well, there are some folks on earth who might be experiencing a heavenly ability now. They enjoy--or suffer from--lexical-gustatory synaesthesia. What is that? Okay, class, study the words. "Lexical" has to do with being derived from words; "gustatory" usually applies to food or digestion. And "syn" has to do with absorbing, while we see "thesia" in a process.

If you have lexical-gustatory synaesthesia, you can actually taste words. These people taste specific flavors when they hear certain words or even try to recall them, says Julia Simner, a cognitive neuropsychologist at the University of Edinburgh. Her study, "Words on the Tip of the Tongue" was published in Nature last month. (I'd have called it, "You'll Wish You Could Eat Those Words!")

According to the article I read, magnetic-resonance imaging proves that these folks aren't faking--and the experience can be unpleasant. One subject hates driving because road signs flood his mouth with every taste from pistachio ice cream to ear wax. And Simner has yet to figure out any logical pattern. For example, the word "mince" makes one subject taste mincemeat, but so do rhymes like "prince." Words with a soft "g" as in "roger" or "edge," make him taste sausage. But another subject, hearing "castanets," tastes tuna fish. Another can taste only proper names. "John" means cornbread for him; "William" tastes like potatoes.

No one can explain the mystery--the flavors are just there.

Gives new meaning to the proverb about a word fitly spoken being like golden apples, doesn't it?



Kristy Dykes said...

Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Angie, this might explain why every time I read your blog, I get the taste of gum balls! :-) Seriously, where do you come up with this stuff? I know--"Expect the Unexpected"! What a weird affliction!

Somehow I'm pretty sure one of your Fairlawn characters is going to turn up with this ailment. That could be a real hoot!

Doni Brinkman said...

Yes I would like to read about a charcter with this "affliction" too. :)

I read a book lately (not your preferred genre so not sure if you would have ever read it), called Gideon's Dawn by Michael D. Warden . It's an alagory that uses the power of words.

"Gideon's Dawn is a complex epic of heroic adventure set in a unique, mysterious world where two magical languages--one borne of Creation, the other of Destruction--are building toward an ultimate war for dominance. "

Unfortunately, the author is having a tough time finding a publisher for the second book so I am stuck waiting indefinitely. I thought it was one of the best Christian fantasies I have ever read so I can't imagine what the hold up is!

Alton Gansky is another author that stretches my mind on how things will really "play out" in heaven. Sorry I am hijacking :) - the topic got me sidetracked LOL!

eileen said...

Ummmm, could your next book have a word that makes me taste chocolate? Think of the diet sensation THAT would be.

Interesting subject. You DO find the most unusual tidbits!

Anonymous said...

I have lexical-gustatory synaesthesia, and only recently realized that not everybody has it. an example would be the word "cooperate" tastes like whipped cream, and the strength of the taste depends on the accent of who's saying it.