IN READING SOME WORKS on synesthesia I saw that it was often treated as an purely genetic phenomenon; derived from what has been coined the ‘lizard brain’. My first response what that seemed like an unmotivated assumption, and that the the roles of genetic predisposition and cultural development need not be distinct in the way they were represented. This infographic is demonstrating that synesthesia need not be a purely genetic capacity, but can also be a partially learned one.

For this task, I surveyed one-hundred students at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, asking them to match six colors to nine numbers however made most sense to them. The leading idea is that they were correlating something we might attribute primarily to genetic disposition—color perception—to something we do not consider purely genetic—the learned appreciation of the symbols of the arabic numeral system.

The results showed correlations at least as strong as some of the cases of ‘purely genetic’ synesthetic correlation.

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