Some of us are able to 'hear' flashes of light
Scientists have identified a form of synaesthesia that may affect more than one fifth of the population.
The remarkable findings suggest that many of us may be able to hear faint sounds when observing light flashes or rapid movements despite the fact that we may not normally be aware of it.
The more typical form of synaesthesia, which occurs in a mere 2-4% of the population, cross-wires the senses in such a way that a person may be able to experience, for example, the number eight as the color blue or a particular place or name as the taste of apples.
"A lot of us go around having senses that we do not even recognize," said study leader and cognitive neuroscientist Elliot Freeman from City University, London.
The research involved showing a group of volunteers pairs of visual or auditory patterns and then asking them to determine whether each pair contained the same sequences.
Around 22% of the participants reported hearing sounds while viewing the visual flashes.
"These internal sounds seem to be perceptually real enough to interfere with the detection of externally-generated sounds," said Freeman. "The finding that this 'hearing-motion' phenomenon seems to be much more prevalent compared to other synaesthesias might occur due to the strength of the natural connection between sound and vision.