All in the Mind

Small children often produce paintings that show pink sky, purple grass, orange people and blue dogs. They tend to be admonished for not using the "right" colors. Grown-ups producing such pictures are usually hailed as artists. But the association of the words sky, grass, people and dogs with apparently inappropriate colors could point to a rare condition called synaesthesia. People with this mysterious ability might hear colors, describe the flavor of a voice, or talk of sounds looking like "shards of glass."

In 'Synaesthesia, the Strangest Thing' (Oxford University Press; 263 pages), neuropsychologist John Harrison looks at how...

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