The way most people experience music is limited to the sound waves that reach their ears.
But what if you could see your favorite songs? What if you could watch a symphony of lights and colors as you listened to your favorite artist perform live?
You can with audio visual synesthesia. This revolutionary new technology uses advanced algorithms to turn any song into an immersive light show on your computer, TV or smartphone screen. Check out this video for more information on how it works!
What is audio visual synesthesia?
Synesthesia is an amazing phenomenon where the stimulation of one sense triggers another. For example, individuals with synesthesia may hear a colour or see sounds. One form of synesthesia, which happens to be the topic of this very article, is audio-visual synesthesia (AVS).
This occurs when visual stimuli trigger auditory perceptions and vice versa. The events can be completely coincidental, such as hearing a voice on TV and imagining the person’s face, or the visual stimulus may consistently trigger a sensation in another modality, such as viewing black letters triggering an eerie sound in your head.
How do you know if you have audio visual synesthesia?
It is difficult to say for certain, but you can use the following guidelines to help determine whether you are experiencing an audio-visual association:
Are your associations specific (i.e., does it only happen with one sound or type of sound, etc.)?
Are your associations consistent (i.e., does it happen with this stimulus every time)?
Does the strength of the association change over time, if at all? If you are certain that these guidelines apply to you, then you very well could have audio-visual synesthesia.
Furthermore, I would recommend seeing an expert if you are uncertain about what type of synesthesia you have. An expert can determine whether your associations are specific or not, for example.
Common triggers for auditory-visual synesthesia
In the past few years, a number of studies have been conducted on human synesthesia by scientists at institutions all over the world. These studies have uncovered a number of commonalities between different types of synesthesia , as well as differences between specific subtypes.
One study conducted at Harvard University tested 2 subjects with auditory-visual synesthesia for mapping certain trigger sounds to specific colors. The study found that there seemed to be no connection between pitch and color, but rather the sound’s timbre .
The scientists concluded that this may explain why some people hear certain sounds and associate them with colors while others do not. Another Harvard University study conducted in 2009 tested 6 synesthetes with personification of letters, numbers, and words.
Researchers tested whether the synesthetes saw different letters at different angles . They found that most of participants did not perceive shapes from letters or numbers in 360 degree rotation , but that one particular synesthete did.
The researchers concluded that this individual was able to “see” a mental image of each letter no matter what direction they rotated it in.
Another study at Columbia University tested 3 synesthetes with grapheme-color synesthesia for possible differences in color perception when looking at different colored backgrounds .
They found that all subjects experienced a significant change in the shade of the perceived color. The scientists concluded that this suggests that an individual’s overall environment can influence their perception of color.
One particular type of synesthesia , called ordinal linguistic personification, has been the subject of research at the University College London and Harvard University.
Two studies conducted by scientists at these institutions tested 2 and 3 subjects with this form of synesthesia respectively for possible associations between certain numbers and specific personalities.
The scientist found that while there was no direct correlation between specific numbers and personalities, there was a strong correlation in the overall distribution of certain personality traits. F
or example, one subject described number 1 as “the all-knowing guru”, while another person described the number 2 as “mischievous” . Another study conducted by scientists at Harvard University tested 8 grapheme-color synesthetes for their connections between colors and month .
The scientists found that there seemed to be no connection between color and the months of the year, but rather a connection with seasonal changes. For example, one specific synesthete associated autumn with dark reds and browns , while another described spring as bright pastels.
Ways to manage or live with audio visual synesthesia
A small amount of caffeine or sugar can help with focus.
A less stimulating activity may follow, such as reading a book or watching an episode of a TV show that is not very emotionally provoking.
Avoid switching rapidly between different activities, which could cause sensory overload due to conflicting stimuli. This might include switching between homework and video games every few minutes.
If possible, listen to music or take a break before you start to find solutions on your own.
Another technique is to count the number of distinct sounds you’re hearing (e.g., different voices in conversation).
A more simple technique is to start small. For example, do one-on-one speaker phone meetings instead of group meetings and videos rather than live presentations.
Take a break or listen to music if you feel overloaded.
If you are about to attend a meeting with several people talking, visualize the rhythms of all the voices as musical notes on a staff. See if you can identify the key of each person’s voice.*4
Notice what color your thought-speakers are, ways to see them (e.g., movement, personality), and remember that they are not real people.
When watching TV shows with several characters talking at once, imagine them in boxes with their name labels hovering above the box so you can ignore each one.
To stop associating people’s voices with colors, try imagining all the people in your life without any particular color to their voice. If it helps, start by just naming specific objects or animals that have different colors.
To stop associating colors with particular people, think of a color and try to make it correspond with a voice. For example, if you think someone has a pink voice, imagine something that is pink speaking the word “hello.” As you do this over time, gradually replace the colors in your mind with the corresponding sounds.
If all else fails, don’t feel discouraged. Audio visual synesthesia is a wonderful gift from God, and it’s part of who you are!
Signs your child may have AVS, and what to do about it
Imagine someone talking about the colors red and green, or playing different musical notes after each other. For most people this will result in either thinking that is very odd behavior, or just think that the person is weird.
However, for some people this can be an everyday experience. They will not only perceive these items as different colors or hear the music instead of just tones or words, but they will also experience it simultaneously.
This phenomenon is called audio visual synesthesia, and people who have it are often referred to as ‘synesthetes’. While many of us find this quite bizarre, for some people these experiences feel completely normal.
They do not know that other people do not hear the colors or see the music, and they will often struggle to describe these experiences. For example: ‘when I hear a trumpet I see black and yellow zigzags on my wall’, or: ‘when someone is talking about red, then it sounds like he/she is screaming at me.’
Most synesthetes do not regard these experiences as negative, but they often find it difficult to explain what they actually mean.
There are several different types of synesthesia; in some people numbers or letters may trigger specific colors (grapheme → color synesthesia) whereas other people will see music in their mind’s eye (auditory → visual synesthesia).
Synesthetes often report that they have had these experiences since they were a child, and describe it as something completely normal to them.
They do not realize that other people don’t experience the same things, and when friends or family tell them about their experiences in colors or sounds it can be a bit of a surprise. Especially for children this can be very confusing, and they may feel different from their friends and family.
Some of these children experience these sounds or colors so intensely that it can be very disturbing and cause social problems.
For example, hearing a person screaming might sound like a fire alarm for some people, and this can make them run away in panic. They may also think that these experiences are very strange and embarrassing, which can cause them social problems.
However, not all children with these experiences will have trouble at school or with their friends. Some children experience these sounds or colors so intensely that it will play an important role in the way they perceive music or other people saying things.
Cortical Activities on Auditory Visual Synesthesia
Auditory and visual synesthesia are both closely related to the parietal lobe, which is involved in involuntary control of sensory experiences.
The V4 region has been shown to play a role in grapheme-color association for those with this type of synaesthesia as well; it’s possible that these same types neural circuits could potentially be active during an auditory-visual experience too.
To expand on my previous statement: Auditory visuals happen when sound waves cause specific colors or image sequences (such appearing) while we hear them because our brains process different parts according their location within space differently than what they receive from ears alone so much happens here!
Parietal and Auditory Hub observed via EEG
Parietal lobe is essential in creating synesthetic experiences, so it would make sense that this region plays a big role.
To explore its potential for auditory-visual synesthesia researchers have used different imaging techniques such as electroencephalographic (EEG) technique and Langer & Jake’s 2011 study on 12 sound/sight sensitive individuals revealed four frequency bands: alpha 1; Alpha 2 -8Hz band which helps us to perceive our surroundings by processing visual images like motion or objects among other things.
Functional MRI investigation: Inferior Parietal Cortex
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to trace the cortical activities in auditory visual synesthetes under a non-linguistic sound test (chords and tones).
This study shares similar result acquired from an earlier resting electroencephalogram experiment, mentioned previously. Both studies pointed towards potential involvement of parietal cortex as it relates specifically with processing sounds associated ones sightedness or hearing difficulty.
However more precise results were obtained when measuring active brain activity during those particular tasks instead.
V4 in Fusiform Gyrus
There has been a great deal of research into the neural processes involved in synesthesia, with one study claiming to have found evidence suggesting that V4 is at play when it comes to audio-to-color and color-to hearing conversions.
Controversy on Level of Auditory and Visual Integration in Auditory Visual Synesthesia
Recent publications have argued that synesthesia is the result of enhanced integration between senses, such as sound and sight.
A recent experiment by Heffter et al found reduced multimodal integration in those who experience musical colors but there has been no research on people with only one modality (hearing) involved with their variety: music-color or shape-color synestery respectively.
“This hypothesis may be supported based off an earlier study done by Dr Meeus which noted increased hyperactivity within parietal lobes compared to controls during early sections.”
Double Flash Illusion Experiment
The double flash illusion is an experiment that tests whether individuals can perceive two simultaneous events. In this case, it’s triggered when someone sees a single light flash paired with multiple beeping sounds and hear them as well.
If the synesthetes have enhanced integration between their vision and audition then they will notice more similarities in what they see than expected by chance alone because both senses are being processed at once.
McGurk Illusion and Speech Comprehension Test
It has been found that synesthesia can be caused by hearing sounds and seeing colors.
The double flash illusion, McGurk illusion and comprehension test were employed in exploring excessive multimodal binding for those who experience this type of sensory input from two sources at once (i.e., vision).
It was determined through these tests whether or not people’s integration would occur more than one sense alone; they also predicted how much stronger the fusion might happen between different senses such as audition/sight because it takes place across both modalities–auditory-visual
Coloured Music: Enhanced Structural Activity
Coloured music synesthesia is a type of auditory-visual association in which musical sounds like chords or tones cause people to experience colours while listening.
A neuroanatomical approach was used by researchers investigating the multimodal integration process involved with coloured melodies.
Diffusion Tensor Imaging allowed them focus on white matter tracts connecting various areas including those associated with vision and hearing from both eyes’ perspectives as well as comparisons between patterns seen when listening vs looking at certain items suchsitheries that were colored differently but had similar textures eidtract.