Issue 6 - January 2001
Ever confused your maths lesson with an art class? If you did you probably have a condition known as coloured number synaesthesia.
Dismissed by plodding scientists as a throw back to childhood, researchers in California have shown that some people do infact perceive a colour when shown a number.
The scientists performed a number of tests, ranging from crazy patterns of numbers which to most of us look like the latest barmy offering of 'modern art' but to these colour geniuses are identifiable numbers. The can see these much as colour-blind people view Ishihara colour-blindness tests.
Scientists also discovered that only Arabic based numerals - the ones we use in the UK adapt to this phenomenon - Latin numerals don't make the mark.
But why? Apparently it's all to do with crossed wires in the brain. The scientists think that the part of the brain which deals with colour is right next door to the part which interprets numbers, people with coloured number synaesthesia may have links between the two the rest of us don't have.
No evidence has come forward as to if this helps in calculations so don't chuck in the maths to concentrate on art just yet!
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