Mirror Neurons and Synesthesia, the multi sensory experience!

The sensory body is most overlooked in the human potential, yet our senses are what make us human, and allow for a deeper experience to the external world. connecting the inner and the outer. Synesthesia is where two senses overlap, and sounds are recognized as a colour, or a note on the scale is also a colour.

The condition is Labelled in popular media as a medical condition or neurological abnormality, whereas many synesthetes themselves do not perceive their synesthetic experiences as a handicap. They report it as a gift, a hidden sense, and something they don’t want to live without.

In the brain, there are mirror neurons, and these mirror neurons play the integral role of sensation and sensory experiences in day to day functioning. Having an awareness of the mental thoughts patterns, the neurons and brain begin to change and adapt to the new conditions of the expanding reality. This in turn enhances the brain activity to open to significant changes that can turn on new synapses, which can entirely remap the brain, producing radical shifts in consciousness, behaviour, thought and emotion, this is called Neuroplasticity.

The agility of consciousness to redirect the neural traffic of the brain affects the strength and action potentials of the neural connections and pathways, and this can totally shift the mental map in the brain. Neural and mental flexibility plays a large role in a person’s ability to activate higher learning, develop higher consciousness, and access memory and sensory functions in the brain.

People that are unconscious to larger negative patterns, will mirror the same exact thoughts and behaviours that they have been conditioned to repeat from the environment, while teaching these same patterns – to their children.

However, mirror neurons also function to help us to sense the intentions and feelings behind the actions of other people. Therefore, mirror neurons are the neurological basis for the human capacity to sense and feel deep ranges of emotions, which are also related to feeling empathy and developing higher sensory perception (HSP). How do we know when a person’s body language or silence is emitting signals of whether they are calm, happy, sad or angry? How do we feel good vibes or bad vibes when we are walking in a certain demographic location? Mirror neurons hold the sensory information from the consciousness memories that we have gathered and interpreted by continually observing people and things in our environment.

There are many different aspects of sensation and synaesthesia and those who experience sensation become aware of this distinctive mode of perception in their childhood. The senses overlap, between audio, visual, tactile, touch and can even induce emotions in some!

Some have learned how to apply their ability in daily life and work. Synesthetes have used these abilities in memorization of names and telephone numbers, mental arithmetic, and more complex creative activities like producing visual art, music, and theatre.

Grapheme-colour synaesthesia or coloured grapheme synesthesia is a form of synaesthesia in which an individual’s perception of numerals and letters is associated with the experience of colours. Like all forms of synaesthesia, Grapheme-colour synaesthesia is involuntary, consistent, and memorable.

Chromesthesia or sound-to-colour synaesthesia is a type of synaesthesia in which heard sounds automatically and involuntarily evoke an experience of colour. Individuals with sound-colour synaesthesia are consciously aware of their synesthetic colour associations/perceptions in daily life. Synesthetic that perceive colour while listening to music experience the colours in addition to the normal auditory sensations that would be triggered in the average person.

Spatial sequence synesthesia tend to see numerical sequences as points in space. For instance, the number 1 might be farther away and the number 2 might be closer. People may have superior memories; in one study, they were able to recall past events and memories far better and in far greater detail than those without the condition.

Number form is a mental map of numbers, which automatically and involuntarily appears whenever someone who experiences number-forms thinks of numbers. Numbers are mapped into distinct spatial locations and the mapping may be different across individuals

Auditory-tactile synesthesia, certain sounds can induce sensations in parts of the body. For example, someone with auditory-tactile synesthesia may experience that hearing a specific word feels like touch in one specific part of the body or may experience that certain sounds can create a sensation in the skin without being touched.

Ordinal-linguistic personification is a form of synesthesia in which ordered sequences, such as ordinal numbers, week-day names, months and alphabetical letters are associated with personalities or genders. For example, the number 2 might be a young boy with a short temper, or the letter G might be a busy mother with a kind face.

Misophonia is a neurological disorder in which negative experiences (anger, fright, hatred, disgust) are triggered by specific sounds. Again, these neurological phenomena point back to the same condition of PTSD. This is becoming more and more evident, as individuals report a certain smell is what triggered an outburst of aggression, defence or anger, and the person reacting, is unaware of why they exploded or felt on edge!

Mirror-touch synaesthesia This is a rare form of synesthesia where individuals feel the same sensation that another person feels (such as touch). For instance, when such a synesthete observes someone being tapped on their shoulder, the individual involuntarily feels a tap on their own shoulder as well. People with this type of synesthesia have been shown to have higher empathy levels compared to the general population. This may be related to the so-called mirror neurons present in the motor areas of the brain, which have also been linked to empath

Lexical-gustatory synaesthesia is another rare form of synesthesia where certain tastes are experienced when hearing words. For example, the word football might taste like beans.

The subjective experience, sensation, and perceptual phenomenon now widely identified by the term ‘autonomous sensory meridian response’ is described by some of those susceptible to it as ‘akin to a mild electrical current…or the carbonated bubbles in a glass of champagne. A tingling that starts at the top of the head and trickles down, some refer to this as orgasmic, where the sensation has a powerful and sometimes erotic effect!

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a form of synesthesia. While a determination has not yet been made, there is evidence that this may be the case, based on significant and consistent differences from the control group, in terms of functional connectivity within neural pathways. It’s unclear whether this will lead to ASMR being included as a form of existing synesthesia, or if a new type will be considered. Nonetheless, it’s gaining momentum and popularity. Think of the nails screeching down a blackboard, this is a form of extreme ASMR, so it makes sense that the gentler the ASMR, the easier the connection and attention to the stimulus.

  • Autonomous – spontaneous, self-governing, with or without control
    • Sensory – pertaining to the senses or sensation
    • Meridian – signifying a peak, climax, or point of highest development
    • Response – referring to an experience triggered by something external or internal

ASMR is triggered for those sensitive to stimulus by; rain, fingers scratching or tapping a surface, the crushing of eggshells, the crinkling and crumpling of a flexible material such as paper. Listening to a softly spoken or whispering voice. Watching somebody attentively as they prepare food. Loud chewing, crunching, slurping or biting foods, drinks, or gum. Receiving altruistic tender personal attention. Watching and listening to a video recording of a person performing or simulating the above actions and producing their consequent and accompanying sounds is sufficient to trigger ASMR for the majority of those who report susceptibility to the experience.

ASMR is triggered by the receipt of tender personal attention, often comprising combined physical touch and vocal expression, such as when having their hair cut, nails painted, ears cleaned, or back massaged.

The effectiveness of ASMR to help with insomnia, is a growing phenomenon helping to calm those affected with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

There are accounts where synesthesia has occurred in non-synesthetes under certain conditions: temporal lobe epilepsy, head trauma, stroke, and brain tumours. They also note that it can likewise occur during stages of meditation, deep concentration, sensory deprivation, or with use of psychedelics such as LSD or mescaline, and even, in some cases, marijuana. However, common stimulants, like caffeine and cigarettes do not affect the strength of their synesthesia, nor does alcohol.

The sensation body isn’t only limited to internal drives, it also plays a huge role in the expression of art. Synesthetic art historically refers to multi-sensory experiments in the genres of visual music, music visualization, audio-visual art, abstract film, and intermedia. Distinct from neuroscience, the concept of synesthesia in the arts is regarded as the simultaneous perception of multiple stimuli in one gestalt experience.

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