Erica Goode wrote in the New York Times in September 1999, "Most people experience the sensory world as a place of orderly segregation. Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch are distinct and separate: A Beethoven symphony is not pink and azure; the name Angela does not taste like creamed spinach. Yet there are those for whom these basic rules of the senses do not seem to apply. They have a rare condition called Synesthesia, in which the customary boundaries between the senses appear to break down, sight mingling with sound, or taste with touch." Copyright © 1999 The New York Times Company. Reprinted with permission.
Now in 2005, we believe that this ability called Synesthesia is perhaps not as rare as it was once believed to be. Though synesthesia has been known for the past 300 years, it is only in the last two decades or so that it has been seriously studied by scientists. Two developments have greatly contributed to this greater awareness and attention to synesthesia: the development and use of fMRI scans, and the Internet. The use of fMRI scans have launched numerous scientific studies worldwide, and the Internet has permitted synesthetes, for the first time in history, to learn more about their abilities and to be in touch with one another.
The American Synesthesia Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, was created in 1995 by Carol Steen and Patricia Lynne Duffy to provide information to synesthetes and to further research into the area of synesthesia. The ASA Inc.'s mission is to foster and promote the education and the advancement of knowledge of the phenomena of synesthesia, and to promote and provide a means for the people who experience and/or study synesthesia to be in contact with each other. As part of its educational mission, the ASA will provide information to scientists, health professionals, academicians, researchers, artists, writers, musicians, lay persons and people who experience synesthesia.
To date, the ASA has held eight major conferences in such notable universities as Princeton, Yale, University of California San Diego, Rockefeller University, University of California Berkeley, and the University of Texas, Houston Medical School.
ASA conferences attract a distinguished and colorful mix of synesthetes, artists, writers, composers, and researchers of all kinds. To find out more about ASA conferences, or to support the work of the ASA by becoming a member, please visit our conference and membership pages.
The Board Members of the ASA are Sean A. Day, Peter Grossenbacher, emeritus, Lawrence E. Marks, and Carol Steen.
Please visit our Conference Pages for more information.