Synesthesia, and tasting sounds

Kate Samuelson, for Motherboard:

[James] Wannerton has a rare form of synaesthesia known as lexical-gustatory synaesthesia, meaning that his taste and hearing senses do not operate independently of each other. As a result, for Wannerton every word and every sound has a distinctive flavour. Although the words and sounds do not usually bear any relation to what they taste like, the flavours are always consistent; “speak”, for example, has tasted like bacon for as long as Wannerton can remember.

“Words and sounds go ‘bink, bink, bink’ in my mouth all the time, like a light flickering on and off,” he explained. “Some tastes are very quick but others can last for hours and make me crave that particular thing; I’ll feel distracted until I actually eat it.”

I have grapheme-colour and spatial sequence synesthesia, but it’s usually subtle. If I envision something, it always has the extra characteristics attached to it: the letter “A” is a red female, and the month of July is located just in front of me, a bit to my left (August is directly ahead). These things are never a distraction. At best, they may be useful for memorization, or they may inform superficial preferences. But I’m fascinated by these extreme cases; people whose experiences are akin to hallucinations, or even to sensory seizures.