[accessibleimage] Re: Paintings really can be heard, scientist says

  • From: Peter Meijer <blindfold@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: accessibleimage@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2006 09:54:54 +0200

Thank you, Vince! The reason I asked is that I believe that
inducing meaningful forms of synesthesia is of key importance
for the future success of sensory substitution. Learning to
understand visual input through sound is one thing, but also
gaining the "qualia" of vision another. There is currently
an international project running in Germany, The Netherlands
and the UK, trying to find links between sensory substitution
and synesthesia. Now I believe that those who are blind with
a little synesthesia may be better qualified to offer hints
about developing useful and controlled synesthesia than those
who cannot help being full-blown synesthetes. At this stage
it does not matter if one can only obtain anecdotal evidence,
because anything may further insights into the possibilities
of employing synesthesia for creating a form of vision as the
sighted and late-blind know it. In other words, I am on the
lookout for "stepping stones" or leads that might help bridge
the gaps between alternative visual input and "true" visual
experiences (and it does not matter that this qualia thing is
subjective, because it is of such great psychological importance,
elusive as it still is scientifically and philosophically).

Thanks for the Ramachandran lecture links on the BBC website.
I'll check them out a little later as I was busy working on
some software experiments. I know of his most interesting work
through his publications, and hopefully he will team up with
the endeavours to bridge sensory substitution and synesthesia.
One of his now classic papers is titled "Acquired Synesthesia
in Retinitis Pigmentosa" (1999), available online on Sean Day's
website at the URL (direct PDF file link)


Best wishes,

Peter Meijer

Artificial Synesthesia for Synthetic Vision http://www.seeingwithsound.com/asynesth.htm

Vince Thacker wrote:
Thanks Peter, will certainly try the font characters as a training aid.

As far as I can remember, I've had the synaesthesia all my life. I've probably cultivated it a bit simply because it's pleasurable and has its uses.

Connected to this sort of thing, the 2003 Reith Lectures by Professor Ramachandran were intriguing and entertaining. Seems you can still listen to them at


He covered such phenomena as synaesthesia, blind sight and the areas of the brain concerned with visual images, not all of them directly connected with the eyes, it seems.

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