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Man has ability to 'taste' words and sounds


Posted on Tuesday, 26 November, 2013 | Comment icon 11 comments

James can 'taste' London Underground stations. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 dconvertini
James Wannerton possesses the unusual ability to derive an actual physical taste from places and names.
The 54-year-old suffers from a rare neurological disorder called lexical-gustatory synesthesia which means that senses usually experienced individually become linked together. The side effect of the condition is that James is able to taste words, sounds and other inputs that usually have nothing to do with that sense at all.

"These tastes and textures are a real mouth feel and not simply an association," he said. "They are all involuntary and the taste and textures cannot be 'turned off' or 'toned down.'"

In a move that has helped neurologists better understand the condition, James has taken to producing a detailed map of the London Underground based on the unique tastes he's experienced at each station over the last 49 years.

Among the more unusual stops are "Burnt matches", "Chocolate Digestives" and "Curly Wurly". Each station seems to invoke a different taste ranging from common foodstuffs to more random things such as "Coal Dust" and "Pencil Eraser".

Source: MSN | Comments (11)

Tags: James Wannerton, Taste

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by highdesert50 on 26 November, 2013, 17:27
A hereditary trait and one that appears to have not been incorporated into our evolution. If it had, then imagine what how powerful our oral and written language would be ... to "eat one's own words" would have an entirely new meaning.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Eldorado on 26 November, 2013, 18:24
I wonder if any of the stations taste of that lovely blast of rotten air you get when standing on the platform.
Comment icon #4 Posted by spartan max2 on 26 November, 2013, 18:37
listing to music must be extra intense for this guy
Comment icon #5 Posted by Razer on 26 November, 2013, 21:53
Synesthesia is an interesting thing and well documented. I can't imagine what that would be like.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Rye17 on 27 November, 2013, 2:19
Comment icon #7 Posted by Duchess Gummybuns on 27 November, 2013, 2:20
NEXT TIME ON DETECTIVE LICKS... "What do you make of it, Licks?" "I can't think when you're talking, Craig. You're interfering with the taste."
Comment icon #8 Posted by LimeGelatin on 27 November, 2013, 17:22
"Dude, can you smell that color and taste that sound... No, well here, have another sugar cube..." -LoLzzz
Comment icon #9 Posted by regeneratia on 29 November, 2013, 0:01
Synesthesia is an intriguing concept. Upon recovering from rotator cuff surgery this summer, I was placed in an interesting room for PT. It had this huge displayed quartz crystal facing me, while I was on the massage table. It also had a big hunk of pink himalayan salt. When the therapist started working on the rotation of the humerus in my shoulder cuff, the light in the room went green, while I was gritting my teeth with pain. It happened several times, green lighting, mostly limited to that room. It did happen one other time in another room.
Comment icon #10 Posted by rodentraiser on 4 February, 2014, 4:44
Synesthesia isn't all that rare. I've heard 1 in 25 people may have it. I have the more common type. I "see" what I hear, like voices and music. I also have a visual calendar for months and for the week, and I have a number line, which is somewhat common to synesthetes. Razer, I can't imagine what it would be like to not have it. I consider it a gift and I also use it a lot, especially where numbers are concerned. My favorite song to watch is the theme from ST:TNG because I can see the notes in different colors as they play together, followed by the big white explosion at the end of the theme.
Comment icon #11 Posted by rodentraiser on 4 February, 2014, 4:45
OMG - I am so sorry everyone - I just realized this topic is more than 2 months old.


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