Colored Letters Aren't Just for Fridge Magnets

Illustration for article titled Colored Letters Aren't Just for Fridge Magnets

Synesthesia — in which the senses get all criss-crossed up and numbers have colors or tastes have shapes — is always incredibly fascinating, but a new study has some really surprising results: Some people who experience color-grapheme synesthesia — where letters and numbers also have colors — kind of like those colorful little alphabet magnets seen on refrigerators across America.

As The Body Odd reports, while Nathan Witthoft was earning his PhD at MIT, he did a super small study with 11 synesthetes:

He found that all 11 subjects had a similarly colored alphabet that paralleled the childhood magnet set. All but one of the participants recalled having this toy during their childhoods. This is the first time researchers found that color-grapheme synesthetes shared common patterns.


Of course, just because you had this set when you were a kid doesn't mean you have synesthesia; it's not learned, it's probably genetic. Still, kind of cool, right?

"I know plenty of people who have this magnet set [who aren't synesthetes]. The fact that we found so many people, or found it at all, is surprising. It's a thing that was made possible [because of] a mass-produced toy," says Witthoft.

'B' is for orange: Synesthesia linked to alphabet magnets in small study [Body Odd]

Image by Lucie Lang/Shutterstock.

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Never knew there was a term for this!

//walks away, newly comfortable with weird sensory crossovers