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What colour is your voice?

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Jennifer Tracey | 13:27 UK time, Sunday, 11 November 2007

Any ideas which famous female singer's voice this might represent?

The answer

Radio 4 listener, Philip Howell, emailed iPM suggesting we look at the work of Philippa Stanton who has synesthesia. It's a neurological condition in which one sense is involuntarily translated into another, for example sounds being experienced as colours and vice versa.

This led me to an interesting post on a blog called Wishful Thinking that makes connections between synesthesia and creativity. And an endearing short documentary about a young American boy with the condition.

I'm wondering what colour Radio 4 is and how Philippa would paint Eddie's voice?

Painting of Eddie Mair's voice

UPDATE - Philippa brought her paint pots into the Radio 4 newsroom on Tuesday 13 November. She spoke to Eddie about her synesthesia and painted his voice (above).

She also painted an impression of our chattering voices at an iPM production meeting -

Philippa's impression of the sound of an iPM production meeting

To give us the background to this condition we spoke to Dr Jamie Ward, Senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of Sussex, who tries to answer Lorna's question on how many people in the UK are thought to have synesthesia.

The Synesthesia Research Centre at the university has a Q&A on the condition and reveals why synaesthetes' brains are different and why they are more likely to be left-handed.

Screen grab from Vilayanur Ramachandran talk from the Ted website
There's also an interesting talk from Neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran called A journey to the center of your mind, on the Ted (Technology, Entertainment, Design) website. It is a broader speech about our minds, but includes synesthesia.

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