Saturday, March 29, 2008

On Synaesthesia, by a synaesthete

I just found a short piece on the BBC news website on living, and growing up, with Synaesthesia, written by James Wannerton, president of the UK Synaesthesia Association, and himself a synaesthete (with taste associations). I personally am fascinated by synaesthesia, for all sorts of reasons, and this piece only enhances that by providing a personal view on how it affects ones life (for better and worse) rather than a discussion from the impersonal perspective of a neuroscience paper. An extract or two:
"...I found my word/taste associations having an increasing effect in my
everyday life, subtly dictating the nature and course of my friendships,
personal relationships, my education, my career, where I live, what I wear, what
I read, the make and colour of car that I drive. The list is endless.
What is beyond doubt is that I would never consider the option of being
cured, if ever such a thing were offered, although it would interest me to find
out how my perceptions would be altered if I "lost" it for a day. "

Link to the story

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Encephalon #41

The 41st issue of Encephalon is now up at Pure Pedantry (ok, so I'm a few days late...). An excellent round-up as usual, with the following posts being particularly interesting to me:

- From Neuroanthropology comes a piece on dissociation strategies, particularly in regard to sporting activities. Dissociation in this context refers to the ability to (or rather the effect of) perform some conscious task completely independantly of the actions you are making, the actions themselves thus no longer being consciously considered: for example, focussing on repeatedly counting to 100 whilst running. Indeed, attempting to concentrate on the physical activity, rather than dissociating from it, may actually impair performance.

- From Providentia comes the story of Solomon Shereshevsky, a man with an extraordinary memory - although he is better known as 'S' in Alexander Luria's writings. After much testing, Luria concluded that Solomon had an extreme case of synesthesia, where all stimuli were converted to (or rather strongly associated with) visual images. A nice reminder that many of the subjects of the classic (and most well-known) psychology case studies were just people trying to on with their lives in spite of their 'impairments'.

- Finally, from The Neurocritic, comes a review of an earth-shattering neuroimaging study press release which shows that hungry people are more attracted to pictures of food (specifically donuts in this case) than full people are :-) Despite the ridicule, there is also a review of the actual published paper, which revealed activation in the locus coeruleus during the hungry state, a hitherto generally overlooked region.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Extended Hiatus

I'm afraid that over the past few weeks, I've not been able to post much (or at all...) as I've been rather busy (just submitted my first conference paper - here's hoping it gets accepted...). I hope to post again in the next week or two through. A couple of links until then:

- The latest Encephalon, up at Mind Hacks
- A short piece on the widely reported thermally powered submarine robot
- The start of a series on introduction to neuron types: The Grid cell, at The Phineas Gage fan club
- A definition of "Emergence" at Brain Hammer