“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception," wrote Aldous Huxley. For synesthetes, that door is wide open. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which one or more sensory modalities are linked.
"There are many different forms," explains David Eagleman, a neuroscientist known for his ability to garner important insights into the nature of perception and consciousness through idiosyncratic methods. "Essentially, any cross-blending of the senses that you can think of, my colleagues and I have found a case somewhere."
Today, Eagleman and writer Siri Husvedt explain their obsession behind synesthesia, including the broader implications it has for changing the way we understand human perception. Dan Honan covers the connection between synesthetes and the arts, and Bob Duggan takes a close look at the life of one synesthete and artist, Joan Mitchell.