A Kind Of Synaesthesia? Seeing Noises

AnonyJ

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If I have my eyes closed and am still, I will almost always 'see' any sudden, loud or unexpected noise as a brief flash against my field of vision. Different sounds have a different shape or colour - for example my door bell (classic 'ding-dong') will be a a few white vertical zig-zags. I've seen white, purple, green and blue most commonly. Shapes vary from lines, zig-zags, starburst to checks/lattices

I tried to find answers in synaesthesia research & websites but they're not really interested in folks who see (sudden, brief) sounds, it seems!

I haven't noticed whether I see noises when I am eyes open & busy. Anyone else for a bit of synaethesia? :D
 

EnolaGaia

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I'm not 100% certain what you describe counts as outright synaesthesia.

If you're sitting still and closed-eyed, you're still capable of 'seeing' phosphenes / phosphene patterns. Phosphenes can be triggered and / or modified by mechanical, electrical, etc., stimulation.

My point is that the neural impulse or shock of an unexpected sound might 'echo' into affecting the state(s) and / or form(s) of your phosphenes, analogous to the way a blow to the head will result in 'seeing stars' (a common phosphene-related phenomenon).

I'm not sure this transient effect under a closed-eyes condition counts as full-blown synaesthesia, which typically refers to sensory translations / transmutations that are persistent and occur under ordinary 'waking' conditions - i.e., with one's eyes wide open.
 

AnonyJ

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I'm not 100% certain what you describe counts as outright synaesthesia.

If you're sitting still and closed-eyed, you're still capable of 'seeing' phosphenes / phosphene patterns. Phosphenes can be triggered and / or modified by mechanical, electrical, etc., stimulation.

My point is that the neural impulse or shock of an unexpected sound might 'echo' into affecting the state(s) and / or form(s) of your phosphenes, analogous to the way a blow to the head will result in 'seeing stars' (a common phosphene-related phenomenon).

I'm not sure this transient effect under a closed-eyes condition counts as full-blown synaesthesia, which typically refers to sensory translations / transmutations that are persistent and occur under ordinary 'waking' conditions - i.e., with one's eyes wide open.

What an excellent reply - just the kind of information I was after - thank you! I've never heard of phosphene patterns & this sounds very like what I experience.
 

Ermintruder

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Indeed, an excellent response (as ever) from @EnolaGaia . I've a further take on this.

I've experienced this kind of effect all my life, and had always put it down to being due to an 'overblink'. If asleep (or nearly so) and startled by a sudden noise, people will curl-up instinctively, and tend to reactively-close their already-closed eyes.

This transient additional mechanical pressure upon the front of your eyeballs translates into the optical perception of there being lights and colours, but they're being neurologicaĺly generated, on an intraocular basis, as opposed to being photons falling upon the retina.

This is closely-related to Enola's response, and again is supportive of your experience not being synaesthesia, as such. My description here might qualify for being called transthesia...if such a physiological term exists.
 

Mythopoeika

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Indeed, an excellent response (as ever) from @EnolaGaia . I've a further take on this.

I've experienced this kind of effect all my life, and had always put it down to being due to an 'overblink'. If asleep (or nearly so) and startled by a sudden noise, people will curl-up instinctively, and tend to reactively-close their already-closed eyes.

This transient additional mechanical pressure upon the front of your eyeballs translates into the optical perception of there being lights and colours, but they're being neurologicaĺly generated, on an intraocular basis, as opposed to being photons falling upon the retina.

This is closely-related to Enola's response, and again is supportive of your experience not being synaesthesia, as such. My description here might qualify for being called transthesia...if such a physiological term exists.
Good answer.
I experience this occasionally, and I've worked out that it may be a twitch of the muscles round the eye and the optic nerve.
 

AnonyJ

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An update - I've discovered that the phosphene patterns can also be triggered by an unexpected touch. I was about a quarter 'asleep' last night when my husband moved very suddenly in bed last night and it triggered an interesting visual flash pattern - like a black and white circular bit of a tennis racket. Interesting!
 

Naughty_Felid

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An update - I've discovered that the phosphene patterns can also be triggered by an unexpected touch. I was about a quarter 'asleep' last night when my husband moved very suddenly in bed last night and it triggered an interesting visual flash pattern - like a black and white circular bit of a tennis racket. Interesting!

I get this quite often, sudden noise and a flash when my eyes are closed. I also get occasional exploding head syndrome and wonder if they are related.
 

EnolaGaia

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I get this quite often, sudden noise and a flash when my eyes are closed. I also get occasional exploding head syndrome and wonder if they are related.

IMHO yes - they're related. I've long experienced what's now generally labeled 'exploding head syndrome' - especially at the point of slipping off the edge of semi-consciousness into the abyss of sleep.

The key point in these cases is that the resultant perceptible pulse / flash / blast / whatever is triggered by an internal shift or change of state rather than an external stimulus.

Nowadays the term 'synesthesia' is sometimes - though not universally - stretched to connote both.

Because my intro to the concept of synesthesia dates back 45+ years, I'm 'old school' in the sense of strongly circumscribing it with respect to sensation / perception of external stimuli. I concede that one might consider (e.g.) exploding head syndrome upon drifting off into sleep as a synesthetic effect involving a sense modality (e.g., akin to proprioception) whose 'input feed' is oneself and not 'the external world'.

However, IMHO employing a single, undifferentiated concept of 'synesthesia' to encompass both internal and external stimuli triggers results in blurring what one denotes by (e.g.) 'sense / percept' and 'sensation / perception', thus making it more (rather than less ... ) difficult to address and explore the phenomena at issue. In other words, I'm not nitpicking with respect to the phenomena per se, but rather with respect to how we distinguish and label their occurrences and implications.
 

_Danforth_

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I get this! Black and white imagery associated with noises when I am in a half-asleep state. I read up on synaesthesia with great interest but concluded it wasn't what I had - then I came across some stuff very similar to Ermintrude's post, the only difference being the article I read said it was static electricity generated between eye and eyelid, rather than physical pressure, but same difference really :) The eye moves towards the sound and this influences the patterns. Certainly mine are always directional.
 
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