Synesthesia Community News





"Real Rhapsody in Blue"


                                          The Emerging Mind

The Emerging Mind...









University of Virginia at Charlottesville

Speakers' series on Synesthesia

organized by Kate Spanos






Rockefeller University




Homage to Monet

by Marcia Smilack

featured in "The Synesthesia Evening"

on Martha's Vineyard

Upcoming events  - Looking back 2003 - Media eventsSubmit listings


In a Newsweek article (Dec 1 2003 "Real Rhapsody in Blue"), journalist Anne Underwood writes of synesthesia, "a quirky phenomenon that scientists once dismissed could help explain the creativity of the human brain".

In his 2003 BBC Reith Lecture on synesthesia, "Purple Numbers and Sharp Cheese" (lecture #4 in The Emerging Mind series), Dr. V.S. Ramachandran says,"It might tell you about things like metaphor and how language evolved in the brain, maybe even the emergence of abstract thought that us humans, human beings are very good at."

Upcoming events

 April 7 - 11 2004

  Tucson, AZ, Towards a science of Consciousness 2004
 (registration required)symposium on SYNESTHESIA AND NEURAL PLASTICITY:

June 25, 2004. 

The Eighth Conference of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, University of Antwerp, Belgium. (registration required).
Workshop on synesthesia. More info on the workshops will be posted here:


October, 2004  

Forthcoming book: 

Perspectives from Cognitive Neuroscience
Edited by Lynn C. Robertson and Noam Sagiv 

Oxford University Press (edited volume, with
chapter contributions from many of the leading research groups in the
field): two of the chapters are by synesthetes


Looking Back: 2003

The year 2003 also saw a number of activities and venues for educating the public about synesthesia.  

October 22, 2003

Kate Spanos, President of the Students' Cognitive Science Society of the University of Virginia has organized a "Speakers' Series on Synesthesia". The series kicked off with author Patricia Lynne Duffy, Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color their Worlds, giving  a reading from her book and a presentation on the experience of synesthesia and other idiosyncratic ways of coding information

An article about Ms Spanos appears in this month's University of Virginia's A & S Online

 October 16, 2003

 The Mind Science Foundation's Fall 2003 Distinguished Speakers Series , San Antonio, Texas  (click for article about this event) included a lecture on synesthesia by Dr. Peter Grossenbacher of Naropa University


 The Third Annual American Synesthesia Association (ASA) Conference  took place at Rockefeller University,  at the invitation of Dr, Maria Karayiourgu, Head of Rockefeller's Neurogentics Laboratory, New York City May 2 - 4 (details here).and was organized by Edward Hubbard of University of California at San Diego, American Synesthesia Association (ASA) Board Members Sean Day,  and Carol Steen and 'mc'd by Dr. Peter Grossenbacher of  Naropa University. The conference, which took place from May 19-21 featured as its honored keynote speakers, Dr. Lawrence Marks of Yale University, who spoke about "Synesthesia Then and Now",
 the development of research and changing attitudes toward the study of synesthesia and Dr.
Mriganka Sur of MIT, who spoke about "Plasticity and Specificity in Cortical Development". Presenters included Julian Asher of Cambridge University, who presented on results of a genetic scan of the X-chromosome and implications for the genetics of synaesthesia; Greta Berman of the Julliard School of Music, who presented on responses to descriptions of synesthesia;  Sean Day who presented "Towards an international consensus and standardization of labels and terminology in synesthesia research"; Dr. Mike Dixon of the University of Waterloo, Ontario who discussed how synesthetic photosms can help or hinder performance;  experience; ; Pat Duffy, author, Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How synesthetes Color their Worlds, who explored 'Personal Coding' idiosyncratic information coding of synesthes and non-synesthetes;  Harvey Gittlemen, who presented his art from synesthetic perceptions of music;  Edward Hubbard of the Brain and perception Laboratory at UCSD who discussed how higher and lower forms of synesthesia appear at different stages of numerical processing;  author Wendy Mass, discussed her young adult novel on synesthesia, A Mango-Shaped Space; Dr. Phil Merikle of the University of Waterloo who discussed the possible genetic basis for synesthesia and its sex-linked aspect; synesthetes who first  become conscious of the synesthetic photism vs those who first become conscious of its trigger; Dr. Thomas Palmieri of Vanderbilt University discussed the "Perceptual Reality of Synesthetic Colors and their Interactions with real colors";  artist-photographer Marcia Smilack, who spoke about how synesthesia figures into her creative process; Ferrinne Spector of  Trinity College, who presented on "Cross-modal Associations in the non-synesthetic population"; Carol Steen, who presented slides of her art work along with a paper, Visions Shared: A Firsthand Look into Synesthesia and Art on synesthesia and her creative process; Cretien Van Campen, who presented on "Combining artistic and scientific perspectives in the study of synesthesia" synesthetes  Holland; Jamie Ward, who compared lexical-gustatory  grapheme-color synesthesia;  The closing event was the screening of the award-winning short documentary film, Chroma by synesthete and filmmaker Carrie Schultz.

April and February 2003

--Synesthete filmmaker Carrie Schultz' short documentary Chroma was screened at a number of independent film festivals, including the New York Independent Film and Video Festival in April 2003 and at the Los Angeles Independent Film and Video in February 2003. Festival where it won a prize for best short documentary

April 19 -- May 24 2003

An art exhibition, Multi-Sensory Memory and Synesthesia, organized by at the Hera Gallery, Wakefield, Rhode Island

July 22 

The Synesthesia Evening, featuring presentations by synesthetic artist-photographer, Marcia Smilack, author Patricia Lynne Duffy, and poet Rose Styron, who read works of Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Garcia-Lorca at the Synergy Design Gallery, Martha's Vineyard, Mass. 

 February 2

The Synesthesia Afternoon, featuring presentations by synesthetic artists and writers took place at Halcyon Cafe in the artists' enclave of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, NY

Presenters included (in order of appearance) Pat Duffy, who read from her book, Blue Cats (Henry Holt & Company.;  Rosalind Palermo Stevenson, Anna Muir and Pauline Zalkin who read synesthesia-inspired poems by Rimbaud,  Baudelaire, and Garcia-Lorca in both English and their original French and Spanish;  Carol Steen, who presented slides of her synesthetic art work, along with a paper, Visions Shared: A Firsthand Look into Synesthesia and Art (Leonardo) on the synesthetic aspect of her creative process; Katherine Vaz, who read from her novel Saudade (St. Martin's Press), which features a character with synesthesia; Natasha Lvovich who read Confessions of a Synesthete, a chapter from her book, The Multilingual Self (Lawrence Ehrlbaum Press); Wendie Mass, who read from her forthcoming children's book which features a synesthetic character, A Mango-Shaped Space (Little Brown); and Mark Safan, who showed slides of his paintings and talked of the synesthetic relation between music and his art work.    

As one member of the audience said, "There is something very moving and convincing about seeing so many people present about their experience of synesthesia." 

The participants hope to repeat their performance of The Synesthesia Afternoon at another venue. Synesthesia Community News will keep you posted.

Some Media Events

Synesthesia was much in the media in 2003.  Some notables:

December 13, 2003

"Hearing Red", an article on Dr. Peter Grossenbacher's research and interviews with synesthetes in The Daily Camera, major newspaper of Boulder, Colorado

May 2003

"Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes", an article  American article by  Dr. V.S. Ramachandran and Ed Hubbard in Scientific American 

February 16 & 19 2003

Hearing Colours, Eating Sounds, rebroadcast of BBC-radio interviews with assorted researchers and synestherts


February 7 and July 7 2003

National Public Radio, interview with Patricia Lynne Duffy, author of Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color their Worlds--on The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC-FM The interview with Pat Duffy followed a fascinating interview with author Antonio Damasio who discussed his new book, Looking for Spinoza

January 6, 2003

"Extra-sense Perception" in The Dallas Morning News


For a fuller list of media events and research articles, visit the Blue Cats Synesthesia Resource Center


Submit listings

Please send announcements, info about synesthesia for  'Synesthesia Community News' to




The Synesthesia Afternoon:  
at Halcyon Cafe in the artists' enclave of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, New York, Feb 2





















Presenters at he Second Annual ASA Conference

Rockefeller University, New York, NY, May 2003