Episode 437 – Are Animals Synesthetes?

One medical definition of a synesthete defines this as a person with synesthesia, a condition in which the normally separate senses are not separate. But  are the senses normally separate?  That question occurred to me when I read the article that introduced me to synesthesia years ago. Admittedly the examples cited in the article–like people who always associate the same letters or numbers with the same colors–do sound unusual. But surely what each individual perceives as reality more likely represents the simultaneous firing of a combined sensory network that reflects  genetically predisposed sensory connections or those consciously cultivated for some reason.

And what about animal perception? Off-hand it seems that a highly integrated sensory network would enhance survival. But how to study this?

Still, for now it’s good to know that, although some researchers do consider synesthesia pathological, others consider it just another shade of normal.


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