Here is a fascinating question. Is the number 3 blue or red? Don’t understand? Well, to some individuals numbers and letters have a very distinct color; to many, they even have personalities. There is one main reason for this, and it revolves around a real-life neurological condition the makes numbers, letters and colors overlap in the mind. Up until, the only people who could correlate colors with letters and numbers, were those with this condition, but now studies show that some can actually be trained to have synaesthetic experiences. No longer, do they have to be stricken with this strange condition at all – the mind can be programmed quite easily.
Synaesthesia is a very unique condition, it is a misunderstood neurological condition which afflicts one in every 23 individuals on the face of the earth. Not only do these individuals see letters and numbers as specific colors, they can also taste words. It is still highly debatable, however, as to where this condition originates. Some think this strange attribute is embedded within the genes of the individual, while others think it stems from playing with colored letters as children.
A nine-week training program was conducted by several psychologists at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science of the University of Sussex. The goal was to see if those who do not suffer from synaesthesia would show the hallmark symptoms of the disease after suggestion. In a sample study of 14 individuals, researchers not only found out that the participants passed all the qualifying tests for synaesthesia, they also developed other rather “odd” traits. For example, participants said that each letter definitely had a color attributed to it and but also had a distinct personality: as with “x” being boring and “w” being a calm letter.
After the studies were completed, the participants showed a drastic increase in IQ, jumping as much as 12 points after the evaluation. Dr. Daniel Bor, who worked closely with Dr. Nicolas Rothen on the project, states, “So much can be understood about the world just by conducting basic perceptual training.”
Although it may appear that these studies were being conducted to turn non-synaesthetes into genuine synaesthetes, this is not true. After three more months, the tests were performed again and showed that most of the participants had lost their abilities to see colors and were mainly focused on the letters.
Testing like this could bring forth many results for objectives such as mental health endeavors. For those who suffer from ADHD or adult patients with Alzheimer’s, this could mean a whole new way of treatment within the memory centers of the brain. Layering and connecting numbers, letters and colors is very important in maintaining an interesting file system for memories and with this knowledge, even damage can possibly be reversed. With further research, we may learn so much more about the correlation between colors, letters and numbers. Until then, what do you think of when you see the letter A?