6 ARE YOUR SATURDAYS YELLOW?
Like Lorde and Liszt, Kate Evans has a kind of cross-wiring in the brain that has some people hearing shapes, tasting numbers or seeing time. She dives into the weird world of synaesthesia.
A kind of cross-wiring in the brain has some people hearing shapes, tasting numbers or even seeing time. Kate Evans dives into the weird world of synaesthesia.
When Shannon Novak was seven, his primary school class was told to go outside and draw what they saw. This was rural Taranaki in the 1980s, and most kids came back with pictures of trees and flowers.
Novak drew an abstract, grid- like tessellated shape, all straight lines and block colours. He wasn’t being cheeky – he had drawn exactly what he saw, he explained. His teacher and parents were confused, but he seemed otherwise normal, so his unusual perception was dismissed as a quirk. Novak kept quiet about it after that – but it didn’t go away.
When he looked at a cloud, a tree, a building, even another person, he sometimes heard percussive beats inside his head, and felt a clear impression of colour and shape – circles and semicircles, bright triangles and block lines. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that he learned the name for what he was experiencing: synaesthesia.
“I just stumbled on the term online,” he says. “I was literally typing things in like ‘trees making sounds’. It was a relief to know I was actually pretty normal.”
A composite threedimensional scan of the variation in human brain structure, created from magnetic resonance imaging scans of 20 healthy brains. The amount of variation is shown by colour-coded ovals that range from pink (greatest), through green, to blue.