The other morning, I was laying in bed listening to NPR's "Morning Edition" before I had to get up, and a particular story caught my attention. It was about a condition called "synesthesia," an apparently rare condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as an additional sense, such as sight. The story featured a female musician who hears colors, in that to her every note has a particular color associated with it.
The reporter went on to interview a researcher at Vanderbilt University, whose specialty is studying people who perceive distinct colors associated with numbers, letters, and words.
And here's what startled me about this story: I didn't know that everyone DIDN'T do that. All my life, I've seen particular colors associated with numbers, letters of the alphabet, days of the week, names, etc. It's totally involuntary and unconscious. It's never been a matter of my deciding what color a word or letter reminds me of...it just "is" the color in my mind. For example, Monday is a reddish burgundy. Tuesday is green. Wednesday is yellow. One is white, two is blue...you get the idea.
It never occurred to me that this is unusual. I can't even imagine having a black and white alphabet.
I polled my family. My sister does this as well (although she has different colors for things) but my parents don't. I haven't yet encountered a friend who does this, although one friend says that she "feels" colors when she gets a massage. I think that may be a variety of synesthesia.
Here's an article explaining synesthesia, basically. Fascinating, isn't it?
Do you have involuntary color associations? Or other cross-sense perceptions that may be synesthesia?