A Research On Synesthesia: Color Perception With Drinks


This project aimed to test the connections between color and sense of taste within a human mind. In order to do this, the scientist conducted an experiment in which five, transparent, plastic cups of lightly colored, Mott’s apple juice were used. Four out of the five cups of juice were dyed unnatural colors including green, yellow, red, and blue. The fifth cup remained unchanged. A survey was then conducted in which participants were to answer a series of five questions. These questions included asking people to rate the cups in order from which they would drink first, asking them their first choice to drink and why, their last choice to drink and why, their thoughts on whether or not the colors impacted their emotions towards their choices and their choices themselves, as well as any feedback they may have had on the subject. Data was then collected and analyzed in order to conclude results. In more ways than one, human senses overlap. A genetic condition known as synesthesia is a strong overlapping between human senses in the brain for a variety of reasons in which people who have this condition, known as synesthetes, may be able to see color when reading words or numbers, hear colors when listening to people talk or when listening to music, taste certain flavors when hearing certain things, and a variety of other sensory overlaps (Access Britannica School). Oftentimes, without even realizing it, the general population associates certain objects, words, or other things with one another. For example, people may consider the color yellow as happy whereas blue is sad, or black is typically perceived as heavy in the context of an object whereas white implies it is light. It can be hypothesized that in this particular experiment, if the color of a drink is altered, then a person’s perception of how it will taste will be negative because it appears unusual, unnatural, and therefore, may indicate a poor taste. One can expect that the darker colors of juice may not be as appealing to people as will the lighter ones simply due to the fact that typically, darker colors are seen as negatively connotated whereas it is the opposite with lighter colors. For example, one can predict that people would much rather drink natural colored, translucent, apple juice because it is natural to them instead of blue apple juice because not only is it unnatural, but blue is often associated with sad or upsetting things amongst the general society. It can be inferred that a majority of participants chose natural apple juice which has not been dyed instead of the others which have been. 


This project focuses on many things including human senses, the neurological condition known as synesthesia, color and how it affects a variety of aspects of human life, and human emotion and response to stimuli. Human senses were heavily researched during this project. They connect naturally in a very interesting manner. For example, sensory input that enters the body through the nose as smell is processed in the same area of the brain as sensory input that enters the body through the ears as sound. Emotions such as anger and pleasure are also processed in the same portion of the brain as human senses. Synesthesia affects around anywhere from 2-5% of the general population and there are as many as 60 known forms of it in which senses overlap for many hypothesized reasons. Also, it has been scientifically proven that color affects anything from human moods to heart rate and other health aspects. If a jaundiced baby is placed under a blue light, their skin tone will improve tremendously. Also, recovery after surgery or another medical procedure in a green room or room full of plants helps the body recover quicker. Plants are also affected by color: a plant's roots are covered in red will grow larger than that of most other colors. The color red increases heart rate and adrenaline in humans whereas blue slows down heart rate and makes humans calmer. Naturally, humans associate aspects of everyday life with one another. By testing participants of the general public for their response to the color of beverages, scientists can better understand these subjects. 


Synesthesia is a neuropsychological condition that causes human sensory input to become intertwined in the brain, where stimulation of one sense causes an immediate response in another (Access Britannica School). This may include experiences such as seeing colors in letters or words or even tasting certain things when hearing specific sounds depending on which senses are combined within the brain. Around 2-5% of the population possesses the trait for synesthesia. This is around one out of every 27 people. It is believed to be a genetic condition as there is much genetic evidence to support this. For example, six genes have been found that are connected to this disorder. They include genes that code for connections between the regions that process senses in the brain as well as for brain growth. Because synesthesia is genetic, not all people that possess genes for synesthesia will have synesthetic experiences. It is known that it does run in families and is passed down through generations.

Synesthesia is seen as a discrete condition and does not typically interfere too much with one’s daily life in a harmful way. Occasionally, a patient's social life may be affected as this condition causes sensory differences. For example, if one has a negative color association with the letters in another person’s name, their automatic perception of the person may be negative as well. Although it can make things difficult sometimes, most synesthetes describe their experiences as joyful, entertaining, and even can be seen as an occasional advantage compared to one’s peers and coworkers.

There are several different types of synesthesia that affect all five senses and how they connect with one another. On of the most well known, common, and studied forms is grapheme color synesthesia. Grapheme color synesthesia causes people to perceive letters, numbers, shapes, words, or other written things as different colors no matter the color they are written in (Access Britannica School). For example, the capital letter A may appear red to someone whereas the capital letter C may appear yellow even though both are written in black. People who are projector synesthetes visually see the colors on the page whereas associator synesthetes simply have very strong associations between colors and written things. Some other forms of this condition include the following connections between senses: hearing music to seeing color, feeling textures to experiencing emotions, hearing sounds to seeing color, spatial sequencing where people either see certain things in the air or associate things with being in certain areas, tasting and experiencing flavors to feeling temperatures, experiencing flavors to hearing sounds, hearing sounds to smelling things, time units to seeing colors, experiencing a person’s personality to seeing colors or smelling things, and many more forms. There are 60 know, documented forms of synesthesia.

Synesthesia is often times associated with other sensory conditions, most notably autism spectrum disorders. Although it is rare for autistic adults and children to be able to explain their thought process, many that do fall into the category of being a synesthete. Much like how a person without synesthesia would find it difficult to understand the thoughts of a synesthete, synesthetes find it difficult to understand not having their experiences. Some famous people that have synesthesia include Billy Joel, Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder, Vincent Van Goh, and Marilyn Monroe. Quite often, people do not realize that they have sensory differences until they begin to discuss their experiences and other people disagree. Even amongst people without synesthesia, there are many sensory differences. For example, how someone perceives the color blue may be how another person perceives red. The general population can be reminded of sensory differences when things like “the dress” come around. When looking at the striped prom dress that circulated the internet a few years ago, some people saw this as white and gold whereas others saw it as blue and black. Others saw neither white and gold or blue and black. It shows up again with things like Laurel and Yanny, where some people heard Laurel and other people heard Yanny. With synesthesia, people simply perceive things differently that the rest of the population.

Because humans are almost always surrounded by color, its effects on the body often go unnoticed unless there is an absence. People aren’t always aware that color affects everything from emotions to even health. Among the general population, colors such as blacks, greys, browns, and whites are often seen as more negative and are mostly associated with darker, more upsetting moods, as well as neutral association or no opinions. Brighter colors such as red, orange, and yellow are often seen as happy, stronger, more positive emotions. Colors such as blues, purples, and greens are mostly seen as calming or freeing in a way. It has been found that in as little as 90 seconds, people subconsciously judge one another based on color alone. Through color, personalities can very easily be judged simply based on an individuals associations with certain colors. This is a reason why first impressions can be so important.

Color also plays a role in health. For example, by placing a jaundiced baby under blue light, they can be cured. Having a patient in a hospital in a green room will increase their tolerance for pain and illness, helping them to recover quicker. Being in a blue or green environment or eating off a plate of those colors causes people to eat slower whereas being in a yellow, red, or orange environment will cause people to speed up their eating and eat more. This is often a reason why companies that make snack foods or fast food places such as McDonald’s use bright reds and yellows to make you buy more and eat quickly. Staring at the color pink makes muscles relax, and the color red stimulates adrenal glands and makes us on high alert, and red also increases human blood pressure, respiration, and stimulates the nervous system making it a good color to wear when extra energy is needed. Blue does just the opposite by decreasing blood pressure, heartbeat, and respiration, calming you down, so this is a reason why bedrooms are often painted blues and purples to calm you down for sleeping. Paying attention to the effects color has on the human body can greatly improve moods and makes people more aware.

Perception of many things is also affected by color. Human emotions are greatly affected by color and basic evidence of that can be found in the English language when people say things like “I am feeling blue” meaning sad or when phrases are used such as “red with rage” or “green with envy.” Prisoners that are kept in pink cells are less likely to get violent because pink causes us to feel a sort of peace. There is a direct correlation between emotion and color. It is also known that human emotions that stem from certain colors can be influenced by current situations. For example, if a person is feeling sad, the color blue may make them feel sad whereas if they are happy, blue may make them feel calm and at peace. Things like temperature and weight can be affected as well. For example, most people would find a blue room colder than a red room disputed both being the exact same temperature. A black box may appear heavier than a yellow box despite being exactly the same weight.

16 August 2021
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