--Original published at Emily's Blog
For this week I watched Daniel Tammet’s TED talk on “Different Ways of Knowing.” David Tammet is an autistic man with savant syndrome. When others learn about his condition, he gets asked repeatedly to describe different things like he is some sort of wizard. He then jokes about not wanting to give the audience a show and goes on to talk about perception. He asks the audience to think about their reactions and perceptions of different examples he gives them. Tammet goes on to explain he believes our perceptions are how we gain knowledge and learning. He believes his condition gives him a heightened view of his senses. Tammet has synthesia, “an unusual cross-talk between the senses.” He identifies colors, shapes, numbers, and objects as one. For example, Tammet sees five as yellow. Tammet then tells the audience the answers to the different examples he gave them earlier and explains why they can get the answers correct through their senses.
This is a very intriguing concept. I believe it could help memory in learning, retaining, and encoding information faster because of chunking. It also can help in relating unknown concepts with other memories you may hold. For instance, if there is five of an object which is yellow it would be easier to remember because he already associates the number five with the color yellow. This condition could almost act like a super power as it gives people a different perspective on the world around us. Maybe someone with synthesia could help explain something in a more vivid way than anyone else ever could.
I think it could be helpful, but it could also be difficult. If one is to rely too heavily on their senses, then they may struggle if their feelings are incorrect or they perceived something in a different way than it was intended. It would be very challenging to have this condition when trying to relate to others. This condition was hard for me to understand. It must be difficult for others when Tammet or someone else with the condition is trying to explain something if people cannot understand. Overall, people with this condition have learned how to live with it as it is all they have ever known. It is a very interesting way of looking at life and it in no way inhibits people with this condition.
--Original published at *Psych 105*
Autism, savant and synesthesia appear to be a group of words that do not belong in the same sentence, yet all three are used to describe famed author Daniel Tammet. Individuals such as Tammet experience the world in a way that may not make sense to the average person. Rather using the senses “traditionally” to make perceptions, those who are synesthetic use their senses to make perceptions that are unique; such as numbers and words having their own shapes, colors and emotions The existence of synesthesia may seem impossible to some, or even a hoax to others. However, through the usage of his TED talk and his various books, Tammet is able to allow the public to peer into his world and how he perceives it.
In the beginning of the video, Tammet talks about how the general public has a set ideology of how savants and those with synesthesia work. The endless questions about astronomically high numbers and birthdates can be tiresome, especially when the extent of how his mind works goes far beyond the capacity of tedious repetition. Tammet shows us that he discerns the answer to large sums by using numbers as tangible beings, with colors and shapes. Each number is not simply a numeral on a page, as you and I see it, but more of a sculpture that can be changed as more digits are added. Even words themselves have different colors and images. In the example he gave, he saw alliteration in blue and the hare he saw as a landscape where the actual hare itself was vulnerable in conjunction with the connotation given by its auditory twin “hair”. Each construct of the sentence was more than just letters compiled on a page. Each word invoked an entire sensory experience; a completely incredible way to view a traditionally “black and white” perception.
I would imagine this condition would allow for a completely changed perception of the world around us. Though the individual with the condition may not see it at first, but in comparison to how the “average” person views it, the differences are astounding. The traditional way of perceiving our surroundings relies on thinking through numbers and words analytically, rather than with our guts or images. There is a stigma that there is “only one right way” to view things, so having this condition might prove to be difficult for some. Then, there are examples such as Tammet, who uses his abilities to show the world the various ways to experience literature and mathematics. Rather than having to learn how to think in this manner, it is the way they are wired to think so there is not as much strain as one might initially think. The differences between perception may allow them to come to conclusions more quickly, or even hold onto information more effectively since there is already a deeply embedded connection to various words and numbers. Individuals with this condition can help the rest of the world think outside the box, and help determine different ways to solve different situations. In day to day life, it can present challenges like a constant flow of sensory input can be taxing on the mind. There is no cease to ever present scenarios of images and colors that create associations to every word and number that can carry meaning.
--Original published at Sierra's College Blog
For this week’s first impression post, I have chosen to discuss option one, discussing Daniel Tammet’s TED Talk. He discusses his condition and experience with synesthesia. Synesthesia is a condition where one sense can activate another. This is the condition where some people are able to hear colors, while others are able to see sounds.
In the beginning of the discussion Tammet tells his viewers to think of three questions and answer them. After this, he explains the way we reach our answers has to deal with the way we gather knowledge. There are people who make aesthetic judgements, however, others gain knowledge through abstract reasoning. Tammet is one of the few and extreme cases of the second way of gaining knowledge. He explains his own answers to the three questions by showing how synesthesia is involved.
After viewing this video from TED Talk, I have many reactions and knew knowledge with people who deal experience synesthesia. I am shocked and intrigued by Tammet’s ability to mix his senses together. It is incredible he can put colors and shapes to words and numbers. He can feel emotions with words and sentences. He has a deeper understanding of poems and mathematical problems with this condition. With this is mind, I am confused with the mind’s ability to share and incorporate multiple senses together. I also have so many questions to ask him or others who share this condition. Do all people see the same colors or shapes for numbers? Do the perceptions change over time? Have teachers discouraged your abilities in the past? Has anyone said you were wrong? Does mixing senses ever become tiring or annoying? With all these questions, I still hope to see the world and gain new eyes, just like the ones Tammet has been given.
I believe this condition affects peoples’ everyday life, including the little details to the large situations each day. I think this condition may affect each individual differently and with different extremes. People with synesthesia may be quicker with math problems, find deeper meanings in poems, and be able to give inanimate objects personalities. I believe these people may be able to see and hear the world with stronger sensations, compared to the normal eye and ear of an “average” human being. With this in mind, I believe these people also may face difficulties and challenges in life. Others may see them as different, and disassociate with them in daily activities or social gatherings. I believe this would be extremely challenging for younger children to handle. If a child is explaining to a classmate a number has emotions, shapes, or colors associated with it, the other child may become confused. As a child grows older, I believe he or she will gain and have a clearer perception of the world.
Overall, I now know synesthesia is a unique condition, where one sense activates another.
--Original published at Rachel's Blog
This week I decided to watch the Ted Talk by Daniel Tammet where he explained his experience of synesthesia. I thought that this video was actually very interesting because it helped the viewer to actually visualize how people experience situations differently. I liked how he began to say that different perceptions are how we acquire knowledge, and I agree with this because if someone views a situation differently, they can explain it to you so that you can see it the way they do, and you will learn something new since you are viewing it differently. Throughout the video Tammet explains to us that he sees sketches as colors. He explained this by putting up a picture with many labeled drawings. I thought it was neat how he told us he associates these with colors, but most people would just associate them with black and white, where he explained them to be blue and green. Another part that I thought was interesting was how he explained his thinking when solving the math problem 64 x 75. I liked how he pictured it as a chess board and simplified it down to 16 x 16 because he was able to visualize the problem in his head as 100 small squares. His final thought he explained was how words express relationships. He gave a sample sentence, and then showed us that he likes of sentences as pictures so that he can get the full meaning of the sentence. I thought it was very neat to visualize these situations how he does because I would have never thought of these situations in the same way that he did.
This condition could affect someones day to day life in many different ways. The main way I am thinking of is possibly in school. This could affect someone in school because if they read something, they could picture the words as drawings and maybe that would help them to better understand material. Also, maybe people with this condition could be able to solve math problems quicker because they can find patters in the problems similarly to how Tammet solved the math problem in the video. This could also possibly affect people in the way they express thoughts and emotions. I think this because when Tammet painted a picture, he used certain colors to show his emotions and he also sees different words in color so maybe certain words relate to different emotions and colors.
--Original published at Sarah's Blog
For this week’s first impression post, I watched a TED talk by Daniel Tammet. He explained Synesthesia and how it affects his life and his perception of numbers and words. Synesthesia is when a person’s perceptions of one sense activates another. An example of this is when a person “hears” colors or associates a certain color/figure to a number or a word. Tammet associates different shapes and figures to numbers and colors to words, and he also notices different ways of solving a problem or answering a question. He explains this to the listener by showing different ways he sees numbers and phrases. For the numbers, he paints the shapes and colors he associates with each number.
This condition is very interesting and I believe it gives a person a totally different viewpoint on different things in life. I feel as if having this condition in everyday life can be both a blessing and a curse. As a music major, I have heard of some musicians with the condition using it as a way to put emotion into a piece they are working on. Some musicians hear a certain passage as a certain color, letting them connect more than one sense to the music. As overwhelming as it could get, I believe someone with this condition could connect different things and make sense out of what they associate. Other people may not completely understand what someone with Synesthesia may connect, but it is interesting to see an issue or problem from a different and possibly more creative perspective.
--Original published at Anneka's Blog
Magic tricks are all around us. We are always mystified by the unexplainable in our lives. Magicians do their tricks well as they make the “impossible” possible as they saw people in half, pull a rabbit out of a hat, and make the missing coin appear from your ear. As many people sit stumped about how these tricks are plausible, many tricks focus on attention of the brain.
Our brains have select attention, as shown in PBS NOVA’s video and the studies included. Magicians use the motion of their hands or body to distract us from the truth behind the trick. Motion detection is a survival method in us all. There is one cell that detects the motion and another that blocks out the background allowing us to focus on the path of motion. For the cup trick, the motion of the cups and hands distracts us from seeing the magician slip balls under the cup even if they are clear. What other others look at, you will probably look at. You may start attempting to focus on the magician’s hands, but actually, you are not giving full attention to the hands. The magician’s face diverts the attention. In a continuation video by PBS NOVA, it discusses how magic tricks could possibly be used as treatment for autism. People with autism have difficulty with joint attention and follwing social cues. Behaviors or motions that take the attention of people may not attract the attention of those with autism. Magic tricks that use social cues and movement to distract the audience may not distract members with autism. They may focus on the hands and uncover the truth behind the trick. The suggested treatment uses magic tricks to teach social cues and behaviors.
It is truly amazing how our brain works. It fascinates me how easily we can be allured. The discussion of the attention reminds me of our class discussions about attention and memory encoding. We are flooded by sensory stimulations every second, but not everything is encoded. You cannot remember what is not encoded. If our attention is diverted other sensory information is skipped over. Hence, how we can be “listening” to someone but not remember what she just said.
And article published by LA Times discusses the theory that pictures autism as a “magical world.” I thought it was interesting of the alternate use of “magical”. Magic is seen as the surprising, unpredictable, and the unexplainable; however, for people with autism, the world becomes magical as they are continuously experiencing the “magic” due to difficulty in reading and executing social and language skills and hypersensitivity. They are unable to become comfortable to sensory input and organize it.
I think the use of magic tricks could be beneficial for people with autism. Using small, simple, and basic tricks could teach them the following movements, watch for, or countering the tricks. This would teach social cues that could later be applied to real interactions. More research is needed, but I think it could have its benefits whether for people with autism or researching autism itself.
--Original published at Caleb C's College Blog
When watching the Ted Talk by Daniel Tammet, it was interesting to see how his sensations work together to figure out a problem in his head. In most people’s cases, a person in their everyday life interprets their surroundings through one sense, and the senses do not typically cross in order to interpret whatever you are doing. In Tammet’s case, and anyone with synesthesia, they seem to utilize all their senses to come up with an interpretation in their mind. For instance, when he was solving the math problem, most people would give up and just think about how complicating it looks, though, Tammet sees it as an easy problem by using pictures in his head to narrow down the answer simply. He also sees numbers and words with colors and shapes to help amplify some of the tones or connections. I think overall this would not hurt or help someone in their everyday life because someone with synesthesia has had it all their life so it is just the way they interpret life and the way their mind functions. Though, how it affects their everyday life, things may sometimes be easier to understand and interpret, but I feel like sometimes since all his senses are working together that it may become overwhelming at times and might make it frustrating. Since all his senses are working together, his mind may be functioning constantly and it may be difficult for him to take a break and just simply relax.
--Original published at Melissa's Blog
I chose to write about option 1, regarding synesthesia. I was shocked after watching Daniel Tammet explain his experience of synesthesia. Tammet’s perspective of the world is astounding; words can have colors and emotions and numbers can have shapes and personalities. Tammet thinks synesthesia makes the “world richer and vaster.” In my opinion, synesthesia is confusing and advanced. If I had this condition, I feel that I would be overwhelmed because all my senses would be active and interfering with each other. In other words, synesthesia seems stressful and unorganized because there is no category for the senses. Sight is supposed to be only for detecting and differentiating between colors, patterns, and shapes. Hearing is supposed to be for listening to and hearing sounds. I would probably feel like I was going crazy if my senses were always active and intertwined with one another.
I feel that many people with this condition experience obstacles that others without synesthesia do not. For example, they might not be able to explain what they see or how they feel to others because no one understands them. People with synesthesia might be ridiculed by others who cannot imagine their symptoms, such as seeing colors and hearing sounds. Thus, many people are probably hesitant to believe those with this condition because it is such a foreign concept. Although I think synesthesia seems stressful and perplexing, those who have the condition are probably well adapted to it. After those with synesthesia realize they are different from others and learn how to express themselves and communicate their emotions and feelings, I believe they can function normally. I think people with synesthesia are very gifted and intelligent, and their lives are not limited or obstructed by the condition.
--Original published at Pisacane Perspectives
I knew a little bit about what synesthesia was before watching this video, as I read a book which talked a little bit about it, but I had no idea how differently people with it experienced things. Being able to see and experience the world like they do really opens things up so that they’re looking at the bigger picture, for example, the way Daniel solves the math problem in his TED talk. Even the way he sees numbers as colors and shapes helps so that he doesn’t just see a chain of numbers like the digits of pi, instead he sees it as a picture and sees how the numbers interact with each other.
This idea of seeing more than just words or numbers made me think a lot about how musicians see music. To most people, it may just look like lines and dots and squiggles, but to someone who can read music, it all has meaning. They can hear how the melodies go and see how the piece flows from chord to chords or from conveying one emotion to another. This takes years of training and practice to be able to do well, but for someone synesthesia, not only is this how they comprehend the entire world, it’s also something that comes naturally to them.
This also relates to what writers try to do, as Daniel spoke about with the use of hare over rabbit, and in the alliteration in Lolita. Stories are written to paint a picture and to take the reader on a journey. The best books are the ones we don’t remember we’re reading, and instead feel like we’re experiencing. This is the way people with synesthesia see writting; as more than just words. Instead they see color and patterns and can much easier pick up on the things writers put in that people without synesthesia may just glance over.
For something that maybe be hard for others to understand or maybe even see the value in, synethesia opens up a whole new world that’s richer and even more connected than the one most people experience.
--Original published at Miguel's College Blog
For this first impression post, I watched the TED talk titled “Different Ways of Knowing” by Daniel Tammet. His TED talk centered around his experience living with Synesthesia, where people have one or more senses linked to another. I have heard about Synesthesia, but never have I actually seen examples explained clearly like it was a mathematical equation. After listening to Tammet’s talk, I understand now that Synesthesia is beyond just hearing colors or seeing sounds. Synesthesia is much more complex in that certain numbers have a less defined shape or reaction with color, or words in a phrase can be linked through color, or simply a poem can be better understood when certain words are linked through number or color. To people with Synesthesia, it makes sense that these words or numbers are linked and it helps them understand things clearer. After hearing Tammet explain his three questions prompted on the screen, I too understood what he was saying – and seeing.
A person living with condition may have both positive and negative experiences. I think that if a person with Synesthesia have not linked there shared senses together consciously, it could be confusing to them during school because other classmates are not seeing what they are seeing, as well as understanding something as they do. On the other hand, because some senses are linked together, a person with Synesthesia may be able to encode and store information better than others without Synesthesia because the words and numbers are already associated with something other than just a number or word. Being able to process that information semantically may allow a person with Synesthesia to remember more things and retrieve those memories better than people without Synesthesia. Hopefully, a person with Synesthesia are not constantly crowded with images of colors and sounds so much that it detracts from their experience of day to day life. Having images and sounds constantly occupy brain space could be draining.