Hearing in Color: Is Synesthesia Genetic or Developed

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Is synesthesia genetic or is it something that can be developed? Are the same experiences shared among people with synesthesia? For example, do people who see colors when hearing music see the same colors for each musical key? A problem with defining synesthesia is that one could think they see color while listening to music when another person can see them vivdly. There may be considerable exceptions in that some people may have slight synesthesia that isn't as developed as people who have been able to notice it a lot more. That is where the question of whether or not it is genetic or developmental comes in. It seems that many great musicians seem to have this ability to see color while listening or writing music, which takes away from the creative ability of those without synesthesia.
There may be scientific ways of proving whether or not someone has synesthesia by analyzing their brain activity when hearing music. It would be interesting to see if people that think they have it begin to have more brain activity as they try to train themselves more and more to see colors when listening to music. If they do have more brain activity, would it be the same as someone who already clearly has synesthesia?
A bias that many people have is that musicians are the ones who are most likely to have synesthesia in relation to music. However, if synesthesia were truly genetic, then non-musicians could be just as likely to have the ability to see color while listening to music. I would really like to know if someone without synesthesia could develop it or if it is something that can only be passed down genetically.
The image below shows which colors are associated with which keys. What I am wondering, then, is how they determine that these are the set colors? If a person sees a different color for a certain key, does that mean that they don't have synesthesia?
Scriabin_s_Color_Keys.jpg
Try this! Can you hear anything while watching this clip?

-April Dawn T. Valete

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This page contains a single entry by valet004 published on October 2, 2011 4:09 PM.

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