Superhuman Sinesthetes

Scientists see in synaesthetes not people with disabilities, but someone like supermen showing us true possibilities brain. There are people who are at the physiological level perceive what is happening around them thinner and deeper than rest. They smell and taste inaccessible to us, raw and wretched. Emotions and sounds have a color “aura” for them. Some they may even feel pain or pleasure experienced by others. Photo from open sources

Michael Banissi of Goldsmith College (UK) and his colleagues drew attention to the fact that an average of a hundred one or two people who are at least once in a lifetime (usually in childhood) experienced what is called a mirror tactile (mirror-touch) synesthesia. At the same time, the strongest sensations it caused pain. “I hate when my husband looks cruel films, “one of the survey participants admitted. And the other the subject asked the experimenter not to touch the glass with him with ice. It’s hard for you to imagine how it feels when your fingers, hands feel what they feel the corresponding parts of the body the person you are observing? And synesthetes just can’t imagine how “normal” people live. On the one hand, they like to look at people who hug and kiss, but sometimes other people’s experiences overwhelm them. “I have to constantly remind myself that these are not my feelings, “complains one of synaesthetes.

Photo from open sources

The most interesting thing is that we are all in some kind degree mirror tactile synaesthetes. Functional brain scan of people who watched specifically at this time selected videos showed activation of parts of the brain, responsible for tactile sensations where people touched on screen, for all participants in the experiment. Only in synaesthetes this the empathic system was overexcited and reached that threshold beyond with which a person began to feel, as if it were touched to him. The mechanism of this phenomenon is completely incomprehensible. Mr. Banissi assumes that the problem is the incorrect operation of the system, thanks which we distinguish ourselves from others. No wonder that synesthesia is inherent in all people, because in order to understand that someone angry or sad, we imagine ourselves in his place. But with in this we remember that this is a different person.

And it seems to the synesthetes that they are not looking at the other, but at a mirror in which they see themselves. And then the substitution becomes more more complete – synaesthetes do not just simulate what they it seems that another person can feel in this situation, but in they guess exactly what he really feels. And the truth is in follow-up studies that Mr. Banissi conducted with Jamie Ward of Sussex University (UK), it turned out that mirror tactile synaesthetes are prone to better Understanding the affects of other people and more accurately the rest facial expression emotions. In the experiments, they surpassed the participants. the control group when they looked at photos in which people smiled, worried, frowned, puzzled or just made faces. And the point here is not that synaesthetes are experts by faces: when it was necessary to remember what kind of famous person depicted in the photograph, they showed the same results as control group. As you can see, synaesthetes do not hallucinate, but really better understand others. Maybe it’s not a disease and not a deviation, but in a sense a normal result socialization? And then it turns out that they, as well as people who especially acutely feel the tastes and smells that possess phenomenal memory on faces, etc., unwittingly show us the true capabilities of man. Mr. Banissi probably concludes to study people with outstanding abilities is not only for the sake of understanding abnormalities of the brain, but also in order to develop methods and exercises that will allow us, pachyderms and stupid, to become a little more attentive and sensitive.

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