Scientists Learn How to Teach Synesthesia (Let the Weirdness Begin)

Scientists at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, have demonstrated a nine-week training course that successfully teaches individuals to see letters as certain colors.

Scientists at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, have demonstrated a nine-week training course that successfully teaches individuals to see letters as certain colors, a classic variety of sensory crossover known as synesthesia. Participants of the study were asked to read texts for half an hour, five days a week, in which thirteen letters were continuously associated with specific colors. 

"The colour immediately pops into my head," said a subject who experienced some of the strongest effects. "When I look at a sign the whole word appears according to the training colors."

An unexpected benefit to learning synesthesia, the participants found, was a sharply rising IQ level. Study volunteers registered a stunning twelve point increase on IQ exams while a control group, who was not taught synesthesia, registered no increase. Olympia Colizoli of the University of Amsterdam, who led one study in which synesthesia was taught under laboratory conditions, said that "people with spontaneous synaesthesia also have better memories for information relating to their mixed-up senses," perhaps accounting for the apparent rise in IQ. 

As neuroscientist David Eagleman explains in his Big Think interview, there are many different kinds of synesthesia. The most common form is letter-color associations like those taught in the study. For Eagleman, it demonstrates how individuals can perceive reality completely differently from each other:

Read more at New Scientist

Photo credit: Shutterstock

How getting in sync with your partner can lead to increased intimacy and sexual desire

Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.

Sex & Relationships
  • Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
  • The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
  • Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
Keep reading Show less

How humans evolved to live in the cold

Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Surprising Science
  • According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
  • Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
  • Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
Keep reading Show less

Stan Lee, Marvel co-creator, is dead at 95

The comics titan worked for more than half a century to revolutionize and add nuance to the comics industry, and he built a vast community of fans along the way.

(Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Lee died shortly after being rushed to an L.A. hospital. He had been struggling with multiple illnesses over the past year, reports indicate.
  • Since the 1950s, Lee has been one of the most influential figures in comics, helping to popularize heroes that expressed a level of nuance and self-doubt previously unseen in the industry.
  • Lee, who's later years were marked by some financial and legal tumult, is survived by his daughter, Joan Celia "J.C." Lee.
Keep reading Show less