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Can You Smell Colors?

Have you ever heard of synesthesia? This is a rare condition in which an individual closely associates two unrelated senses. For example, scientists exploring synethesia have discovered that these individuals may see sounds or smell colors. While this condition is rare, researchers have discovered that non-synesthetes often associate specific colors with specific smells.

Researchers at Occidental College are exploring synethesia and have developed a fascinating set of conclusions about the human brain's ability to pair two senses:

•When a color is paired with a smell that is unexpected people typically rate the combination as less pleasant than if the color is paired with an expected smell.

•Color "smell" responses were stable within a culture, but these connections were different across cultures. For example, a plastic smell almost universally triggered a dark palette, though Dutch and German respondents selected bright pink or orange.

•Researches also synthesized that color odor differences are affected by a myriad of factors including age, language, travel experience, and the amount of time spent cooking.

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