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Elisabeth Sulser - "The Synaesthete"

The Superhuman and Quest: Elizabeth Sulser, of Zurich, Switzerland, is a 29-year old synaesthete.

Synaesthesia is an extremely rare neurological condition characterized by the fusing of senses. For Sulser, this means the involuntary fusion of sound, sight and taste. Musical notes prompt different shapes and colours to appear in her direct field of vision, while intervals induce various flavours on her tongue - an F sharp is violet; a minor sixth is creamy; a perfect fourth tastes like mown grass.

Sulser's particular combination of senses is so unique that she is the only person in the world documented to have it. Realizing that others didn't perceive the world as she did, at first Sulser thought she had a mental illness and was confused and isolated by her experiences.

At the University of Zurich, Sulser participated in a study under Dr. Lutz Jäncke, Chair of the Department of Neuropsychology, which scanned the brains of synaesthetes to determine if the structure of their brains was different than non-synaesthetes.

Dr. Jäncke speculates that synaesthetes may have a superior ability to learn, as the basic principle of connecting or associating an item with several other items is strongly linked to memory and creativity. Sulser, a musician by trade, uses her gift to develop perfect pitch and memorize musical scores after looking at them just once.

Further studies and tests at University College London will introduce Sulser - for the very first time - to other synaesthetes, and for the first time she will find a sense of belonging.



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