Smell and Taste in Synaesthesia

Synaesthesia is a phenomenon in which people experience sensations in a second sense modality when a different sense is activated, for example, some people see colors when they are reading letters or experience a sound when they see a shape. We are particularly interested in understanding more about people with smell or taste synaesthesia. In this project we explore the types of associations with smell that are found in synaesthetes and the implications such associations have for odor cognition and language.

Are you a synaesthete?
Do you experience smells when seeing colors or shapes? Or do certain sounds trigger specific smells for you? Perhaps some words have specific tastes or smells for you? Whatever your associations with smells and tastes, get in touch with us! We are currently recruiting participants. For more information about the project please contact Laura Speed.

5senses copyright by P.Manko

Cross-Modal Odor Correspondences

Associations between different modalities, referred to as “cross-modal correspondences”, exist not only in synaesthetes but in the general population as well. Some of these associations are reflected in language. For example, “sharp” can refer to sensations in taste, smell or touch. We are investigating the cross-cultural stability of cross-modal correspondences between smell and the other senses, and the possible role of language in these associations.

Sound-Space Correspondences

In English and Dutch we speak of pitch as being “high” or “low”, but in Turkish and Farsi speakers describe the same pitches as “thin” or “thick”.

We explore whether different spatial metaphors for sound influence the way people think about sound, and how children develop these correspondences over time.