Auditory-motor synesthesia

Alternative names could be audio-motor, sound-to-kinetics, auditory-kinetic or auditory-kinesthetic synesthesia

This type of synesthesia, little known and not yet officially named, consists of involuntary body movements triggered by sound.

Some people - possibly auditory-tactile synesthetes in all cases - experience involuntary movements of different parts of the body, specific and consistent, in response to certain sounds. These may be either general or musical sounds.

The prevalence of this type of synesthesia is unknown. It appears to be rare, but it is probably more common than we realise as it is not yet a recognised type. More cases might be reported in the future when more is known about motor-related synesthesias.

Here are some descriptions written by people with this type of synesthesia:

“Whenever I listen to music I can't help but move my fingers, hands and arms in patterns that mimic what the song feels like to me. I can consciously stop doing it after it starts. (…) This isn't something like moving one's hands around mimicking playing a piano when listening to a piano song, rather, percussive, tonal, pitch and tempo fluctuations in songs make me move my hands and fingers.”

“The sensation is indescribable as far as I can tell, but it's somewhere between desire, need, and certainty that this is what I'm supposed to be doing.”

(Source: This post and comment on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2015 and 2013.)

“Some electronic sounds cause my face to twitch or twist. There are sounds that affect my eyebrows, my eyelids, my nose or my mouth. The same sound causes the same “tic” or movement and they repeat throughout the song whenever that particular sound occurs, following the same pattern when there’s a sequence. It isn’t pleasant or unpleasant, just curious really. I have to be relaxed and focused on the music for it to happen, with no distractions and preferably in the dark. I can’t recreate the movements unless I’m actually listening to the sounds: they are totally dependent on the music, I can’t honestly move my face like that. I made a video of it but I’m not thinking of showing it to anyone.”

(Pau 365, my own experience)

"Whenever I hear sounds, mainly music, I feel like I have to move a certain way. Yes, I know it's music. It's supposed to make you dance. But this is different than dancing. These movements aren't dance moves and don't necessarily move to the beat. It's more like, "This sound makes me want to look left. This sound makes me want to open the door with this hand. This sound makes me want to walk around these things instead of going in between them." And so on, and so on. If I don't do the motion I'm "supposed" to do, it feels like holding in a sneeze."

(Source: This post on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020.)


At least two of these people have auditory-tactile synesthesia. Perhaps this type of motor synesthesia is a variant of auditory-tactile. 

Go to the page on auditory-tactile synesthesia

Go to the page on motor synesthesia in general

Go to the page on lexical-motor synesthesia (words evoke certain actions)

Go to the page on mirror kinetics (involuntary movements on seeing other people move)

This page last updated: 06 June 2021


  1. Two women in my family (both of them synaesthetes with different kinds of synaesthesia), involuntarily move their lips while they are being talked to, as if mimicking the other person's words. Is that auditory-motor?

    1. Hi Kim! No, that isn't considered a form of synesthesia.

  2. I 100% relate to the first description. It’s like the music controls my movements. but i can stop it. in my hands or whole body. i just have to relax and tune in. i recorded myself doin this with my hands for the first time. like the music flows inside me n trigger movement. different instruments and sounds and vocals all at once.

  3. I have auditory-tactile synesthesia, and this also resonates with me. But it's not totally involuntary. When I'm at home, I'll move the part of my body that's "lighting up," but if I'm with other people or not in an appropriate environment, I can easily stay still.

  4. What is going on? this is not something I could describe in a mandated 5 minute doctors appointment with out being laughed at. So I'm asking here. Since a serious head injury I've been able to voluntarily invoke frisson in any body part I want, without any stimulus. With sound or music It's like I'm compelled to reach out and play the air like an instrument, frisson surging as I play. I'm slowly finding motions for instruments, vocals erratic like fire. some sounds prickle between my hands like I'm holding a sleeping hedgehog. Those same movements generate the same sensation in silence. I cannot hear the music or sound just feel it in the air, i'm not even humming along. Newish while watching tv drama I feel the treads of plot in sweeping movements, the threads have thick textures and vibrate almost like colours unseen.