Derek Tastes of Ear Wax

Posted in: Health, Psychology

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This documentary looks at the fact that perhaps one in every hundred people experiences a blending of the senses.

Imagine if every time you saw someone called Derek you got a strong taste of earwax in your mouth. It happens to James Wannerton, who runs a pub. Derek is one of his regulars. Another regular’s name gives him the taste of wet nappies. For some puzzling reason, James’s sense of sound and taste are intermingled.

Dorothy Latham sees words as colours. Whenever she reads a black and white text, she sees each letter tinged in the shade of her own multi-coloured alphabet – even though she knows the reality of the text is black and white. Spoken words have an even stranger effect. She sees them, spelled out letter by letter, on a colourful tickertape in front of her head.

Both James and Dorothy have a mysterious condition called synaesthesia, in which their senses have become linked. For years scientists dismissed it, putting it in the same category as séances and spoon-bending. But now, synaesthesia is sparking a revolution in our understanding of the human mind.

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