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Neuroscience Paper on Synesthesia As a Rare Neurological Condition

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In our brains, there are connections made between the cerebral cortex. In normal brains, there is an equal split in the long and short connections inside our cerebral cortex. The short connections are related to our interests and our ability to do something that interests us, while the long connections relate to the capacity our brain has for things outside of these interests (Stinson, 2015). Our dopamine receptors in the thalamus determine what gets through. “Our brains process thoughts faster than we can sort through them.” There is a difference in the brain of a genius; in which a genius brain, has less of these dopamine receptors, in which lets more thoughts come through (Stinson, 2015). The gray matter in the brain refers to the darker tissue in the brain and spinal cord. It made up of dendrites, that are literally waiting to receive information from axons. When studying the brains of people who achieved IQ scores over 130 it was discovered that they have a greater volume of gray matter. There are larger quantities of nerve cells in their gray and white matter which means that communication happens more quickly and effectively. There may be various amounts of physical or tangible characteristics that are different in the brains of geniuses but, something non-physical would be their creativity and approach to different problems. (Stinson, 2015). Geniuses come with a flood of ideas in which they do not eliminate their ideas based on efficacy or practicality, everything is considered, and thoughts are not disqualified. There is no one identifying factor for what makes a genius instead there is many factors in which it becomes a mysterious puzzle for scientists and researchers (Stinson, 2015).

Creativity and Intelligence

In the relationship between creativity and intelligence, creativity can be known as a subset to intelligence, in which creativity is the broad search for information and the generation of various answers to problems. There are four factors of creative problem solving: sensitivity, fluency, flexibility, and originality (Sternberg, 2014). Sensitivity refers to one’s ability to recognize problems, fluency is the number of ideas one can come up with, flexibility is how one shifts their approach, and originality is how one comes up with an answer that is unusual from others (Sternberg, 2014). Sternberg and Lubart (2014) believe there are six main elements that converge to form creativity: intelligence, knowledge, thinking styles, personality, motivation, and the environment. Intelligence has three aspects according to Sternberg, the synthetic aspect relates to creativity as synthetic ability is the ability to generate the ideas that are novel, high in quality, and task-appropriate (Sternberg, 2014). The first essential element of synthetic ability is the meta-component. The meta-component for creative people may mean, taking problems that others see or that they’ve seen, and redefine them in a different way (Sternberg, 2014). For example, they might redefine a problem by deciding rather than trying to make more money to meet expenses, they should instead cut back on their expenses. Sternberg and Lubart state, “redefining problems involves both an ability and an attitude – the ability to do it effectively, but also the attitude whereby one decides to do it in the first place (2014).” What they are pertaining to is the discipline to revert the problem and follow through with a unique answer to the problem. Having the attitude is the thought process of trying a different approach to the problem.

Savant Syndrome

Savant syndrome is a rare, but extraordinary, condition in which persons with serious mental disabilities, including autistic disorder, have some “island of genius” which stands in marked, eccentric contrast to overall handicap (Treffert, 2009). Whatever the particular savant skill, it is always linked to massive memory. The most recent savant to date was known a “Rain Man”, his real name, Kim Peek. Peek, was known for having memorized over 6000 books and reading them at a rapid rate, being able to scan pages simultaneously with the left eye reading one page and the right eye reading the other. His MRI shows no corpus callosum and other relative CNS damage. Also, he has Autism Spectrum Disorder in which one out of every ten people with autism shows some savant skills. The autistic savant is one of the most fascinating cognitive phenomena in psychology. ‘Autistic savant’ refers to individuals with autism who have extraordinary skills not exhibited by most persons (Treffert, 2009). The most well-known of these savants is famous artist Stephen Wiltshire, who can draw well-detailed drawings of any city from his memory. Although savants may have many skills and capabilities, their main skills are in art, mathematical skills, higher memory recall, and being able to play music at a high level (Hughes et al., 2018). Researchers have recorded savant syndrome to occur in 37% of individuals who have autism. Bölte and Poustka (2004) explained there is no difference in intelligence between savants and autistic individuals. In which it is believed autistic individuals develop their skills through many hours of practice, making their abilities closely related to those who are “memory athletes”. An example would be, memorizing thousands of digits of the number pi using mnemonic devices and techniques, while taking hours of practice to do so. Although savants don’t tend to need practice, they indeed do, creating the question why and whether practicing their skills has effect on the cognitive or perceptual aspect of learning. Simner et al. (2009) believe that the hours spent practicing savant skills come from the austism-linked trait, obsessiveness. Most savants tend to have an obsessive trait to over-rehearse their skills to a prodigious level. In which individuals who have prodigious event-memory expressed higher obsessional traits than others. One other sensory link between savant syndrome and autism is synesthesia. This is a trait where numbers or sounds immediately trigger a sensory response of color. Simner et al. (2009) state that, “the obsessive over-rehearsal of savants may focus primarily on the skills of synesthesia”. Hughes et al. (2018) has supported this claim with a model that shows people with synesthesia have many skills related to savants.

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Synesthesia is a rare neurological condition that occurs when the brain entwines its senses. In those with synesthesia, one sensory modality automatically triggers a perception in a second modality. For example, a sound might instantly trigger a blob of color (Cytowic, 2002). This neurological phenomenon is a X-linked dominant trait, in which it is seen more in females. People with synesthesia appear to be just like ordinary people. Most of all synesthetes have a relatively high intelligence but lack some cognitive skills. Fifteen percent of known synesthetes have a family history of dyslexia, autism, or attention-deficit disorder. Synesthetic percepts are neither a conventional perceptions nor an image. Instead, they possess a curious spatial extension and dynamism. The mechanism controlling these additional percepts or associations is unknown; it could involve cross-activation from a cortical area representing the inducing stimulus to one representing the concurrent percept or association. This cross-activation could be mediated by direct connections (Hubbard, 2007). Alternatively, the experience could involve “hyper-binding” between cortical areas (Weiss and Fink, 2009). Where some mechanism such as the synchronization of cortical oscillations drives the co-activation. In which, the mental association of patterns of activity represents the inducer and concurrent. Several studies have identified structural differences in the brains of synesthetes compared to controls (Weiss and Fink, 2009). In almost all cases, synesthetes showed greater volumes of areas of grey or white matter or greater fractional anisotropy (FA) within certain white matter tracts than controls. Sagiv and Frith (2013) believe synesthesia can help with understanding conscious experiences. They have researched that synesthesia is special change in subjective experiences that can different from the conscious percepts of other people. Sagiv et al. (2013) state that, the consciousness is mediated by essential nodes in the brain which are required for a conscious experience. They use color as example, stating that synesthesia gives support to their claim because there are localized differences in the activity level in the brains of people with color synesthesia color regions. There are actually different kinds of synesthesia where one may get triggered by letters, numbers, words, names, music, smell, taste, even time. Majority of the cases with synesthesia involve time units and graphemes. For grapheme-color synesthesia one and the same physical stimulus can induce a different concurrent all in which depends how the stimulus was received and interpreted in the shape of a “S” could also be interpreted as the shape of a “5” (Dixon et al., 2006). It has been recently discovered that new synesthetic associations could be created immediately as a new meaning could be given to any symbol (Mrockzo et al., 2009). For the most common synesthesias are conceptual in nature, an example, days of the week that are colored by the position their in and the amount of importance rather than being colored based on the letters in which the weekday starts with. Synesthesias for numerosity use the same that creates the same color in all cases which demonstrates that synesthesia could occur anytime a synesthete is thinking of the inducing signal.


Hyperthymesia or Super Autobiographical Memory is condition in which one can remember their life on a day-to-day basis. They can remember events on any given calendar date, dating back to their puberty years, with extremely accurate detail. This ability allows for individuals to use their minds as such of a database, being able to remember what clothes they were wearing or what they ate on any date (Viklund, 2015). Although this may be an extraordinary mental ability, it comes with some drawbacks. A person with this talent may have a difficult time with relationships, as they are always correct about past details, conversations, and things that happened. In which could make it very difficult to argue with someone who has this ability or lie to them because of their ability to analyze everything and find holes in the story you are telling. Their ability to recall or recollect events from the past is effortless and is distinguished from other types of exceptional memory by not needing any form of practice or mnemonic device to help store the information (Viklund, 2015). One other detrimental effect the ability can have is interfering with one’s thinking capacity since a stream of memories could disrupt an average day’s activity. With this condition, people may be able to associate events with dates but they do not have a photographic memory as they may still have trouble memorizing common information. Scientists believe this phenomenon is revolved around semantic cues that are used to retrieve the information, but they would need a larger group of people with hyperthymesia to be discovered to create a better model of how their memories are stored and played back. Other relative evidence suggests that amygdala may belong to autobiographical memory and that it plays a vital in emotional processing which likely helps encode stimuli charged by one’s emotions (Ally, Hussey, & Donahue, 2012). There is evidence of right hypertrophy and enhanced amygdala-to-hippocampus connectivity in people with hyperthymesia. With this knowledge, researchers speculate that autobiographical memories with emotional, social, and self-relevance are charged by the amygdala. Researchers in cognitive neuroscience have reported structural and connectivity changes associated with brain development could be responsible for changes in autobiographical memory. There are studies that suggest an increase in gray matter volume in memory-related areas until approximately the age of 16 (Giedd et al., 1999) and a recent study shows an increase in amygdala volume from ages 11 to 13 correlating with increased testosterone in males during puberty. Thus, proving that brain development may change autobiographical memory. The amygdala is connected to relatively 90% of all cortical areas of the brain (Cole et al., 2010) which makes it easy to convince researchers that it could increase the likely memories are stored and retrieved (Ritchey et al., 2008).


Telepathy refers to communication outside of the known senses. Studies have shown that we are able to “read” other people’s minds because we have neurons that may act as automatic mirrors. In this instance, we can automatically grasp the emotions and intentions of others. The ability to interpret subtle social cues can be enhanced by oxytocin, a hormone that increases trust and social approach behavior (Domes, 2007). In 2008, psychiatrist Ganesan Venkatasubramanian and his team conducted a study in which they prepared images for someone who is telepathic and one who isn’t. The results showed that the telepath was able to produce a image similar to the one prepared for him, whereas the person who was not telepathic could not. Venkatasubramanian concluded that when telepathy is successful, the right parahippocampal gyrus (PHG) was activated, thus meaning it is not active in a person who is not telepathic. Instead, one is who is not telepathic has their left inferior frontal gyrus activated. Thus meaning, this provides evidence that humans are indeed able to sense each other’s intentions. Some researchers believe telepathy is a clairvoyant perception of someone else’s neural process (Krippner, 2015).

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Neuroscience Paper on Synesthesia As a Rare Neurological Condition. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from
“Neuroscience Paper on Synesthesia As a Rare Neurological Condition.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
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