Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Time-space synaesthesia

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Very interesting post by Mo:

Synaesthesia is a neurological condition in which there is a merging of the senses, so that activity in one sensory modality elicits sensations in another. Although first described by Francis Galton in the 1880s, little was known about this condition until recently. A renaissance in synaesthesia research began about a decade ago; since then, three previously unrecognized forms of the condition have been described, and a possible explanation for how it arises have been put forward.

Of all the forms of this fascinating condition, the least researched is time-space synaesthesia, but two new studies provide some insight into it. One is a case study of an individual whose time-space synaesthesia has an apparently unique characteristic. The second demonstrates that time-space synaesthetes have superior cognitive abilities than non-synaesthetes, and suggests that time-space synaesthesia may underlie the savant-like abilities of people with hyperthymestic (or "super-memory") syndrome.

Time-space synaesthesia is a form of visuo-spatial synaesthesia in which individuals experience units of time – such as hours, days, or months – as occupying specific locations in space relative to their own body. These associations are highly specific and are experienced consistently. For example, one synaesthete described her experience as follows: "When someone mentions a year, I see the oval with myself at the very bottom, Christmas day to be precise. As soon as a month is given, I see exactly where that month is on the oval. As I move through the year, I am very aware of my place on the oval at the current time, and the direction I am moving in."

Michelle Jarick of the Synaesthesia Research Group at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and her colleagues describe the case of an individual whose time-space synaesthesia has a previously undescribed feature. Like other time-space synaesthetes, the 21-year-old individual, known as L, experiences the time of day and the months of the year as being represented in the space around her body. She experiences the hours of the day in the form of a large "clock face", and her mental calendar consists of a giant number "7", which extends for approximately 1 meter around her waist, and on which the months of the year are arranged. 

Uniquely though, L’s mental vantage point changes depending on whether …

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Written by LeisureGuy

20 November 2009 at 11:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

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