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.

North & South - - In This Issue -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.