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Spatial sequences of concepts (other than time units, numbers or letters)

A type of spatial sequence synesthesia


This type of synesthesia involves consistently visualising concepts other than time units, letters or numbers in physical space.

This type has been reported but not formally studied and it appears to be less common than spatial sequences of time units, letters and numbers. I have seen cases of the following concepts reported and I hope to add more to the list as I discover them:


School subjects

Scientific fields

Zodiac signs

Illnesses

Literary works of a specific author

Books of the Bible

Prayers

Songs

Episodes/seasons of TV series

TV channels

Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Netflix

Apps

People (friends, family, etc.)

Musical notes played on an instrument, when thinking about them

Solfege syllables



Image: BrockleyPark, in this post on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020.

These visual mental maps are created in an involuntary process that seems to form part of how the sequence in question is learnt. They can be generated at any time in the synesthete’s life, as they are concepts learnt at different ages, including adulthood, and not only in early childhood as is the case for numbers, the alphabet and time units. The visual layouts are stable, although some of them less so than the arrangements of time units/numbers/letters, as new additions are often tacked on when more elements in the sequence are learnt or the whole map can sometimes regroup itself slightly so that the series will fit better.


This type of spatial sequence synesthesia usually coexists with one or more of the other three types, and it is common for the same person to have several mental maps at the same time. In this case, when they concentrate on one of their mapped sequences it occupies a predominant status in their field of vision while the others fade into the background or disappear, or, alternatively, the synesthete’s visual perspective shifts as though they were travelling around the spatial maps, leaving some of them behind them and out of view.


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

Image: Flappyfluellen

Whenever I’m thinking about Shakespeare plays, this visual will automatically appear in my head, and I can manipulate it and “travel” around it at will.

It’s also not fixed—as I become more familiar with different plays, it changes shape somewhat. The better I know a play, the more fixed its position becomes. For example, in the two “clumps” of plays I don’t know that well—those plays were difficult to place because they don’t quite have fixed positions for me.”

(Source: Flappyfuellen, in her blog Synaptic Synnie. 2017.)

 

When I am on Facebook, I picture it existing to the right of my mind. Netflix is to my left and YouTube is in the centre of my mind. When I jump from one to another, my perspective shifts. Instagram is kind of above my head, Pinterest is up and to the right. (…) I would usually have to use an app/site several times before my brain naturally decides where it’s located in space. I suppose I can place apps that I rarely use, but those would have to be significant in some way.”

(Source: comments on a post in the Facebook group “Synesthesia”. 2020.)

 

Go to the page on spatial sequence synesthesia in general


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