Jul 30, 2013

By Michael Kramer

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A man being treated at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital is thought  to be only the second person in the world known to have developed synesthesia after suffering brain damage.

Symptoms of the extremely rare neurological disorder began nine months after the anonymous patient suffered a stroke.

The condition  causes  people to experience more than one sense at the same time and  “see” words or numbers as colours. They can also can hear sounds in response to smells.

In this man’s case, when he hears the music of the “James Bond Theme” he experiences euphoria and sees light blue flashes in his peripheral vision.

Neurologist Dr. Tom Schweizer of St. Michael’s Hospital says it appears that when the man’s brain tried to repair the stroke damage, the “wiring” went wrong and produced synesthesia.

Most  synesthetes are born with the condition, and include some of the world’s most famous authors and artists, including  composer Franz Liszt, painter Vasily Kandinsky and singer-songwriter Billy Joel.

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