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Every so often, an oddball phrase or sentence trends on Google search, such as: “Can blind people see the taste of cinnamon toast crunch?”

This is a fascinating, serious question disguised in buffoonery. A more apropos question seems to be: Is it possible to “see” the taste of a cereal? Or better yet: Is it possible to see a taste? Or taste a word?

This answer is yes, sort of. An involuntary neurological condition called synesthesia, which is also spelled synaesthesia, describes a version of this experience. A synesthete is someone who automatically activates a second sensory pathway once a first is stimulated. The word derives from two Greek words that mean “together” and “sensation.”

A common form of this condition has to do with letters and numbers. It is called color-graphemic synesthesia. This is how it works: A synesthete consistently ”sees” letters or numbers as a specific color. For some, this perception happens in their mind’s eye, while for others, it is projected externally.

When a writer describes one sense by using words that describe a different sense, “the trumpet solo soundslike  lime green jello,” for example, this is also known as synesthesia, but it is in fact a figure of speech, or a trope. Let’s return to the brain disorder.

There are over sixty types of synesthesia and it seems to run in families. Also, a number of external stimuli can cause the condition, such as blindness, a stroke, or — no surprise here —psychedelic drugs.

So, what does this have to do with cinnamon toast crunch? Well, in one of the condition’s rarest forms, gustatory synesthesia, words can actually evoke tastes, seemingly making it possible to taste a word.

Now that you’ve learned a word for this unusual mental experience, what do you call the state when you are neither completely asleep nor completely awake? We have an answer for you, here.

Canisius High School planning $14 million upgrade ; New academic wing, fieldhouse top the planned projects

The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY) November 16, 2007 | Sharon Linstedt Canisius High School is planning a $14 million upgrade of its Delaware Avenue campus that includes a new fieldhouse and academic wing.

A new three-story, 26,000-square-foot math and science wing will be constructed on the West Ferry Street side of the building on what is currently a grass practice field.

The 27,000-square-foot fieldhouse will be located on the Cleveland Avenue side of the property, where Frauenheim Hall, a former Jesuit residence, now stands.

“This project will enhance our ability to educate our students, and the new structures will blend in with the neighborhood and the exquisite architecture of our campus,” said the Rev. James P. Higgins, Canisius president. in our site canisius high school

Located at 1180 Delaware Ave., south of Gates Circle, the school is housed in a circa-1924 mansion built as a home for Marine Midland Bank founder George F. Rand. The stone structure later served as the Buffalo Consistory of the Masons. This would be the biggest construction project since the school moved from a downtown location to the Delaware Avenue site in 1944.

Pending city approvals for the campus overhaul, the all-male Catholic prep school plans to start construction by next summer, with a completion target of fall 2009. Uniland Development Co. of Amherst is partnering with Canisius on the project, with Buffalo’s Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects in charge of its design.

Architect Gerald Strickland said the design is meant to reflect the 130-year-old school’s traditions and its place in the community.

“[The fieldhouse and academic wing] respond to the neighboring context, from Cleveland, Delaware and West Ferry,” Strickland said.

The school and its construction team have met with several groups of neighbors in recent weeks to give them a preliminary glimpse of the project. Parent and alumni groups also have received updates on the campus redevelopment plan.

“Canisius is finalizing funding plans for this capital project and is considering several alternatives,” Higgins said.

Highlights of the math-science wing include state-of-the-art classrooms and labs to accommodate technological needs. A new cafeteria will be located on the basement level of that structure.

The fieldhouse will house a full-sized basketball arena, which can be split into three practice courts, decreasing the need to schedule early-morning and late-night practices.

The two-pronged construction project also will provide improved access to the school’s two parking lots for buses and cars, while eliminating lot exits onto Cleveland Avenue.

“This will end a long-standing bottleneck on Cleveland and make things easier for those residents,” Higgins said.

Frauenheim Hall, built in 1956 and used as a Jesuit residence for more than 40 years, will be torn down to make room for a new sports complex. It has been sitting idle for several years, with intermittent office use, as the high school has contemplated its future physical needs.

The project will get its first official public airing before the city Planning Board on Tuesday. go to web site canisius high school

Unveiling of the $14 million project comes as Canisius begins a $500,000 project to convert a mansion-turned-day care center across the street from its campus at 1193 Delaware Ave. into administrative offices, with additional parking.

The school also is attempting to sell a donated mansion-turned- luxury offices, located at 891 Delaware Ave. Michael DeRose, of DeRose Food Brokers, gave his company’s former headquarters to the school last year, and it is currently on the market with an asking price of $3.3 million.

Canisius also is deciding the fate of two Cleveland Avenue residences it purchased in 2005 as part of its effort to aid its land-locked campus. And it is now utilizing a portion of a 65-acre site it bought on Clinton Street in West Seneca in 2005 to develop athletic facilities.

Sharon Linstedt

88 Comments

  1. Comcifer -  February 12, 2014 - 11:32 pm

    Is there a Synesthete here to help me figure out what the word “turd” tastes like?

    And how about combinations of words like “Gemstone Poop,” or “Turd Government” or maybe “Grand Scum”?

    Reply
  2. Kat Rina -  February 8, 2014 - 2:27 pm

    Holy Crap! I thought every one was like that. I see all of the letters, numbers, months, etc. as colors. The numbers 1-9 are colors and the numbers after that usually take the color of the second number. For example 5 is yellow so 15 is yellow. How do people not see things like this????? What do people see when they hear numbers? Do they just see them all as a black or something? I cant wrap my brain around that.

    Reply
    • Ashlyn -  April 6, 2014 - 4:23 pm

      Me either! I have synesthesia too! And cor the record, this article makes it seem like it is a disease and is a weird, bad thing when it is so amazing! Just sayin’

      Reply
  3. Sara Bee -  January 31, 2014 - 8:42 am

    I think I kind of have this with numbers? Whenever I’m doing math I always see the numbers in my head as different colours and “doing” different things. Like 54 is always pink and yellow and… I don’t know I hate the number because the 5 makes me feel intimidated but only in that number. Like 154 is completely different, the 5 and 4 are still pink and yellow but there’s no negative connotation. With the exception of 5, I usually see odd numbers as “cooler” numbers and evens as “warmer”. To the point where when I was younger, the cooler colour put me off and I absolutely HATED odd numbers. I remember getting upset because I was born on the 21st of August on a even-numbered year. So close.
    I still see colours with numbers and get certain connotations, but as I’ve grown older (obviously) they don’t impact me so dramatically anymore. I’ve just kind of gotten used to it, haha.

    Reply
  4. Jim -  September 13, 2013 - 11:22 pm

    My son had the condition known as color-graphemic synesthesia. We did not find this out until he went to the Art Institute International in San Francisco. One day in class his instructor was explaining how certain people have a condition that causes them to perceive a distinct color when looking at a particular letter of the alphabet. He raised his hand and asked the question… “Doesn’t everyone?” Since he had the condition from birth he assumed it was the norm and never really questioned it or discussed it with anyone since it was just the way it was for him. I remember once we were in a parking lot and I pointed out a gorgeous Dodge Viper. James told me it was an “S”. I argued with him that I was sure it was a “Viper” and there were no “S” Models of this car. They are all just Vipers. After we went back and forth a bit he finally explained in a rather exasperated tone “No Dad! The Viper is the color “S”! He was telling me that the deep purple color of the Viper is the color that associates with the letter “S”. When he joined the army and shared his color association with his team they did believe him. So they split up various letters of the alphabet and would test him at random times by asking him what color a particular letter was. After consistently answering the same color repeatedly for the letters they each were responsible for they finally believed his story. What a fascinating thing it must have been for him to “see” a color when viewing a letter! Sadly he was killed in Afghanistan in March of this year. We miss his quirky ways and all of his unique abilities. We will never forget the remarkable young man with the colored alphabet.

    Reply
  5. Crazy person -  June 14, 2013 - 1:07 pm

    Every time I smell a strong smell, I taste it, too.

    EWW

    Reply
  6. Mantha -  April 16, 2013 - 5:10 pm

    Justin, I totally do too, it’s kind of cool once you think about it, though… :D

    Reply
  7. (o_o') -  March 22, 2013 - 6:20 pm

    I was eighteen when my world fell apart due to this whole…whatever this is entered my consciousness.Until then, I had no idea everyone didn’t see, taste, feel thought…I was in a philosphy class and students were discussing thought and the senses when a statement made me burst into laughter. I thought it was a joke only to find it was statement which everyone else took for grantedL ‘we cant see or hear or feel or taste thoughts’.

    Ten years on I’m still plagued by this whole deal…how the *bleep* does anyone think without tasting, seeing, hearing thoughts? I cant imagine a world in which tuesday is not pastel green anyone more than I can imagine a world without the world…I cant imagine at all, infact; a world without experiencing thought visually or through the senses is death, it isnt even blackness because blackness is experienced through the senses…I just dont understand…

    I still cannot believe anyone doesn’t think how I do because I cant understand or imagine or experience or know that…if thought is not projected visually and movable with flavours and textures and temperatures etc what is it? We don’t and cant know or understand anything without or aside from our senses. I just don’t get it…to not think through seeing (especially) is to not think…try not thinking without simply thinking about not thinking….that is what asking me to think without seeing or whatever is like…

    If someone can make me know how to understand or experience whatever it is people who say they dont see thoughts etc it would change my entire life, it would be like meeting god or discovering the world in cube shaped and standing on the edge of it or something…it (literally) beyond comprehension as far as I see it…and I do see it…how can I not!? That’s my whole question!

    I feel like part of The Truman Show and the whole of humanity is playing a massive joke on me and have since I was 18…its not funny anymore, guys. Give it up and admit you see thoughts or feel them or hear them etc…you must, otherwise why do people say they hear themselves when they’r thinking? What do they mean if they dont actually hear themselves? why say it?

    I so want to understand this! Please!

    Reply
  8. Edgar Mice Burrows -  January 13, 2013 - 11:58 pm

    Re Marie’s post above (and probably earlier ones by others):

    I believe there are different degrees of synasthesia. As others have suggested, I also believe that synasthesia is not a peculiar condition, but one that is shared by the majority of humans.

    I don’t think it shows the same way for everybody, though. One person find it common to smell a color, another might see a sound. And so on.

    Could it be that all humans are capable of synasthesia? That the different abilities of individuals are not evidence that synasthesia is unusual, but that humans have unconsciously found ways to ignore it and favor other sensory abilities?

    I think it could. Music and most other forms of vibration that are usually sensed with my ears and skin (as opposed to sight and smell) are perpetually present and most often change the taste in my mouth. It’s difficult for me to eat something and enjoy it as it ought to be when there is music playing, or when I ride on the railroad and feel the vibrations of the wheels on the rails, etc.
    But when I sit back in silence, no problem. Unless heartbeats also cause it. But how would I know…?

    The entire subject boggles my mind.

    Reply
  9. Crazy person -  January 9, 2013 - 3:06 pm

    If you say the name of a food, what would they taste? The food mentioned?

    Reply
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  11. Marie -  November 18, 2012 - 6:15 pm

    I wonder if there are different degrees of synesthesia? I read A Mango Shaped Space and the main character had trouble with math because her senses were getting in the way. Reading, too. The colors were overwhelming. I definitely associate letters and numbers with colors and sometimes personalities, but that doesn’t make it hard for me to read or do math. Maybe there are some versions of the “disorder” that are stronger than others.

    Reply
  12. Pumpkin Cupcake | -  October 18, 2012 - 5:48 pm

    [...] note…I have synesthesia and yeah, I really love the hell out of pumpkin [...]

    Reply
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