[-empyre-] metaphor or cliche?
Read this recently on the site neurologynews.com
THE MIND’S EYE—NEUROSCIENCE, SYNESTHESIA, AND ART
Comments by Dr. Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, San Diego
What do you think...
“We were struck by the fact that, if you look at the fusiform gyrus, the color area of the brain is right next to the area that deals with visual graphics and numbers, almost touching it,” Dr. Ramachandran said. He posited that some people have a gene mutation that causes either disinhibition or defective pruning of the connections between adjacent brain modules. “If there’s a gene mutation which causes defective pruning, and if it’s selectively expressed in the fusiform gyrus, where the number and color areas lie, you get cross-wiring between these areas causing number to color synesthesia.
“Later we stumbled on some synesthetes for whom even the days of the week and the months of the year had colors,” he added. “So we asked ourselves, what does a number have in common with the days of the week or the months in a calendar? The answer is, they’re all sequences. So my conjecture is maybe in these ‘higher’ synesthetes it’s the abstract concept of numerical sequence that gets linked to colors. Perhaps in these people the same gene is expressed in the vicinity of the angular gyrus where the abstract idea of numerical sequence is represented, and close to it is also another color area that’s further downstream from the color area in the fusiform. If the gene is expressed in the fusiform, you get a lower synesthete driven by the visual features of the grapheme: if it’s expressed higher up, near the angular gyrus, you get a higher synesthete in whom the color is evoked by the concept.”
Lastly, if the gene is expressed continuously everywhere you get extensive hyperconnectivity throughout the brain. “This explains, I think, why synesthesia is so much more common in artists, poets, and novelists. What do artists, poets, and novelists have in common? They use metaphor, analogy. They can take seemingly unrelated ideas and link them."
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