There are some individuals who read in color — these people have grapheme-color synesthesia. With grapheme-color synesthesia, each letter appears as a certain color. This can seem like a foreign concept to the majority of us that read in black white, but for those with this condition, it is common and pleasurable. It is estimated that about 1 percent of individuals have grapheme-color synesthesia and 4 percent have synesthesia (to some degree). Most people with these conditions enjoy seeing color in “odd” places.
It is not uncommon to hear someone comment that he or she would love to have synesthesia. This is because the condition is not harmful to people and it can make life more interesting, to say the least. Artists, especially, may benefit from this condition. It has long been believed that individuals are simply born with synesthesia. But today, researchers are beginning to question that assumption.
Can a person be taught to see letters in color? That’s the question the University of Amsterdam researchers asked when they conducted a study on people who did not have grapheme-color synesthesia. The study’s participants were given books that contained colored text letters (the letters were sporadically colored). What was the result of the study? After reading the books with colored letters, individuals without grapheme-color synesthesia “associated those letters with the correlating hues.” This is amazing news that indicates synesthesia may have a slight capacity to be taught.
The study at the University of Amsterdam had beneficial effects upon its participants. One participant began enjoying the color orange post study. Two individuals reported they read faster after reading the books with colored letters.
Is it true that synesthesia is simply genetic? That is a tough question for researchers to answer. On one hand, it’s not uncommon for members of the same biological family to have synesthesia. But on the other, it’s a fact that one is not born with language skills; he or she learns them. While it has not been proven that synesthesia can be taught, researchers are definitely doing further study into the possibility of learned synesthesia and its benefits upon individuals. Many people would take advantage of the opportunity to learn synesthesia and read in vibrant color.
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