Friday, June 01, 2007

Mom always said I was special

Today I was reading Ken Jennings' blog and there was a brief mention at the beginning about a condition known as synesthesia, which I was unfamiliar with, so I clicked through the link he posted to the Wikipedia article.


Can I just say, by the way, how much I love wikipedia. I realize that its not foolproof, but where else could you learn about synethesia and also find out which tracks have been announced for Guitar Hero 3?)


Anyway, so I'm reading about synethesia which apparently is "a neurological condition in which two or more bodily senses are coupled." Not really making sense of that, I scrolled down to find examples. Among the most common is one in which people see letters and numbers with color. This is known as grapheme -> color synethesia. Also there's a similar one where people experience colors in connection with musical tones. (music -> color synethesia).

Anyway, I thought all this was interesting and wondered what that would be like, and kept on reading, when suddenly I came across this chart:


Apparently one form of synethesia, number form synethesia, is having a mental map of numbers. Until this moment, I never knew that there was anything abnormal about having a mental map of numbers. Or of the alphabet. Or of the annual calendar. I just assumed that everyone has one of those. Because I do. How else would people remember where things lie in relation to each other?

Mine isn't exactly like the one in this image, but I totally have a mental map of numbers. I've even thought about posting them on the blog, but wasn't quite sure how to draw them up, because while they are a map, they twist and turn through 3 dimensions in a way that would make drawing them all together quite difficult.

Even after reading about this, I'm still not sure that this concept isn't something that everyone else experiences. A second Wikipedia article refers to the fact that everyone has an unconscious number line, but mine are very much not unconscious. Anyone out there have some of these mental maps? I'll try to find a way to draw up mine, at least the alphabet and calendar ones, as their finite nature lends itself to a simpler map.


George said...

I don't think I have a number or letter map. I definitely have a strong feel for if numbers are even or odd. For example if I can't quite remember all the pieces of a phone number and make a guess, I usually end up with at least numbers in the same even or odd category. I'm interested to see your map as well as your attempt at recreating it.

Geobadger said...

Ah, my geobadger picture is back now that I have merged my Blogger and Google accounts. The world will never be the same - or rather it will be back to how it used to be.

Rachel said...

I REALLY want to see your map. I sometimes look for patterns to help me remember things-- but this sounds totally different and I can't quite imagine it. 3-D? Whoa. Maybe you can put a model together using popsicle sticks or wire or something.

Me said...

I have a number map, too, and never knew there was anything unusual about it. I am thinking it would be fun to tell doctors I have synesthesia when they ask if I have any health conditions. :)