Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia

Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia

by Richard E. Cytowic, David M. Eagleman
     
 

"A person with synesthesia might feel the flavor of food on her fingertips, sense the letter J as shimmering magenta or the number 5 as emerald green, hear and taste her husband's voice as buttery golden brown. Synesthetes rarely talk about their peculiar sensory gift - believing either that everyone else senses the world exactly as they do, or that no one else does.…  See more details below

Overview

"A person with synesthesia might feel the flavor of food on her fingertips, sense the letter J as shimmering magenta or the number 5 as emerald green, hear and taste her husband's voice as buttery golden brown. Synesthetes rarely talk about their peculiar sensory gift - believing either that everyone else senses the world exactly as they do, or that no one else does. Yet synesthesia occurs in one in twenty people, and is even more common among artists. One famous synesthete was novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who insisted as a toddler that the colors on his wooden alphabet blocks were "all wrong." His mother understood exactly what he meant because she, too, had synesthesia. Nabokov's son Dmitri, who recounts this tale in the afterword to this book, is also a synesthete - further illustrating how synesthesia runs in families." "In Wednesday Is Indigo Blue, pioneering researcher Richard Cytowic and distinguished neuroscientist David Eagleman explain the neuroscience and genetics behind synesthesia's multisensory experiences. Because synesthesia contradicted existing theory, Cytowic spent twenty years persuading colleagues that it was a real - and important - brain phenomenon rather than a mere curiosity. Today scientists in fifteen countries are exploring synesthesia and how it is changing the traditional view of how the brain works." Cytowic and Eagleman argue that perception is already multisensory, though for most of us its multiple dimensions exist beyond the reach of consciousness. Reality, they point out, is more subjective than most people realize. No mere curiosity, synesthesia is a window on the mind and brain, highlighting the amazing differences in the way people see the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

So what is synesthesia? Researcher Cytowic (The Man Who Tasted Shapes) and neuroscientist Eagleman (Ctr. for Synesthesia Research, Baylor Coll. of Medicine) offer an answer: synesthesia is a response to a stimulus with the joining of senses that creates a particular experience of the world. It could be an association of a letter to color, shapes to music, an orgasm to flashes of color, or a phoneme to taste. The authors' descriptions of the varieties of joined sensation appear limitless. Herein the reader discovers the often-hidden and, to the uninitiated, idiosyncratic world of the synesthete. The authors also delve into the importance of synesthesia to creativity, explore successful synesthetes, including artists, authors (e.g., Vladimir Nabokov), and composers, and introduce the genetics and neuroscience behind the condition. Filled with detailed tables, clarifying illustrations, and instructive chapters, this title, which includes an afterword by Nabokov's son, Dimitri (also a synesthete), should be required reading for teachers and anyone who works with children.
—Scott Vieira

New Scientist - Liz Else
This is a clear, clever book that will appeal to synaesthetes in search of explanations, and to all with a passion for neurology's wild territory.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262012799
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
02/27/2009
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.80(d)

What People are saying about this

Daniel Tammet
A fascinating survey of the enormous variety and creativity of the synaesthetic mind.

From the Publisher
"Twenty years ago, synesthesia — the automatic conjoining of two or more senses — was regarded by scientists (if at all) as a rare curiosity. We now know that perhaps one person in twenty is synesthetic, and so we must regard it as an essential, and fascinating, part of the human experience. Indeed, it may well be the basis and inspiration for much of human imagination and metaphor. No one has done more than Richard Cytowic and David Eagleman to bring a careful neuroscientific attention to synesthesia, grounded in decades of research and reports from thousands of patients. Their work has changed the way we think of the human brain, and Wednesday Is Indigo Blue is a unique and indispensable guide for anyone interested in how we perceive the world." Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sachs
No one has done more than Richard Cytowic and David Eagleman to bring a careful neuroscientific attention to synesthesia, grounded in decades of research and reports from thousands of patients. Their work has changed the way we think of the human brain, and Wednesday Is Indigo Blue is a unique and indispensable guide for anyone interested in how we perceive the world.

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Meet the Author

Richard E. Cytowic, M.D., founded Capitol Neurology, a private clinic in Washington, D.C., and teaches at George Washington University Medical Center. He is the author of Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses and The Man Who Tasted Shapes, both published by the MIT Press.

David M. Eagleman, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, where he directs the Center for Synesthesia Research.

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