Tasting Words

Can you taste words?

Rani Kumar, one of my Botanic Hill detectives, and I can! We share an extra sensory ability called synesthesia. No, it isn’t fatal! It’s actually fun.

Synesthesia is a mixing of the senses in the brain where one type of brain stimulation–such as hearing a word or name–makes you experience something else. For Rani and me, that something else is a taste or a smell. We were born with it, and it can’t be “turned off.”  But we wouldn’t want to. It’s like eating, minus the calories!

Some synesthetes associate a word, number, or musical note with a color. Those are the most common types. Rani and I associate words and names with foods or aromas. Our type of synesthesia is very rare. Two to four percent of the world’s population has some form of synesthesia. But only 0.2 percent or lower of the world’s population has our type, lexical-gustatory synesthesia. Some famous people with synesthesia were Van Gogh, Duke Ellington, Plato, and Socrates.

I know what you’re thinking. You want some examples, right? Well, my first name–Sherrill–makes me taste a cherry lollipop. My last name–Joseph–is a Mounds candy bar. (My maiden name–Johns–is Ivory soap; I’ll take candy over soap any day!) And Rani’s examples? Well…you’ll have to read the book!

So get a clue, synesthetes and non-synesthetes: Watch in Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets how Rani uses synesthesia as the detectives solve their case.

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