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


Literary works of a specific author

Books of the Bible



Parts of song structure (chorus, bridge, verse)

Episodes/seasons of TV series

TV channels

Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Netflix


People (friends, family, etc.)

Musical notes played on an instrument, when thinking about them

Solfege syllables

Image: BrockleyPark, in this post on the Synesthesia SubReddit. 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: Finn F.

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: Finn F, in his 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.)

"I see grades k-12 mentally in my mind going from bottom left to upper right. I think this has to do with the fact that I generally see time from left to right and since grade level increases as you move along, the height literally gets higher as grade level increases. In my mind. So if I am thinking of the whole k-12, starting at kindergarten, I would compare it to a sidewalk that goes diagonally to the right with the square two places to the left of where I’m standing being Kindergarten. Diagonally right, to 8th grade, then at 9th grade, it goes to the direct right and is straight with a slight angle upwards to the left until you get to 12th grade. The lower the grade, the closer it looks, while the higher the grade, the farther way it looks. The angle changes a bit depending on what I am ‘zooming’ in on. If I zoom on something, it gets bigger.

I generally see them in groups, and I think this has to do with how it was arranged when I went to school. K-2 was in one building, 3-5 was in half of another building, but the other half was 6-8. 9-12 was in another building. When I think of 6th grade, I always see the rest of middle school and 5th grade in color and in their spatial location. If I think about 9th grade, I see the level and gap difference it has with 8th grade and the rest of high school to its right and up a bit.

There’s a gap in between 2nd grade and 3rd grade, I think because literal change of buildings and elementary school is a level higher than primary school. There’s a smaller gap and level difference between 5th grade. I think this is because there is no school building change. Then there’s the largest gap between 8th grade and 9th grade. Possibly due to the literal building change and that high school just seems Iike another world from middle school. Growing up to be more adult. And that differs from middle school."

(Source: This post on the Synesthesia SubReddit. 2021.)

An interesting case where the spatially-located concepts have a strong textural and tactile component 

”Basically songs, concepts, places, anything in life, have spatial locations ( can be around me or in me ) which I can also physically feel. They can be open curves to the side of me that are smooth and glowing and cold like marble, they can be a sensation at the back of my throat that’s rough as sand paper and hollow as oak, it can be a liquid that lines my bones or a feather filled pillow against my ribs.”

(Source: This post on the Synesthesia SubReddit. 2022.)

Go to the page on spatial sequence synesthesia in general

This page last updated: 22 April 2023


  1. Wow, it's so fun to see something I wrote in 2017 quoted on here! (I'm "Flappyfluellen"/"Synaptic Synnie", though I haven't really used those blogs in years.) You might be interested to know that the basic shape of my Shakespeare sequence has stayed the same for me, though some plays have shifted places.

    I noticed you have some more images of mine around the site - if you'd like to credit them to a uniform source, my DeviantArt page has some of those and a bunch more images you might be interested in checking out!
    You could also credit them to "Finn F." if you'd prefer names to old internet handles. (sounds a bit better than "Flappyfluellen" at the very least, lol)

    It's also quite funny seeing that "her" pronoun, as I'm a man! Synesthesia may be more common in women, but it certainly occurs in people of all genders...

    Super cool site! I'm excited to look around some more.

    1. Flappyfluellen! I’m so pleased to meet you! To me, you have one of the most interesting cases on the whole of my site and I remember how pleased I was to find your drawings of the Shakespeare plays and Star Trek series, they’re a perfect illustration of a type of synesthesia that people just don’t talk about but which I am starting to think is more common than it originally seemed, and I think this is helping more people to find cases similar to theirs.

      I’m so sorry about getting you mixed up, I really did think you were a girl :D I read through your blog and I was sure, otherwise I wouldn’t have put “her”. I got it wrong though, I’ll learn from that! Maybe in part it was difficult for me to believe otherwise because of your name Flappyfluellen, for me that is so feminine, I see a red-haired lady with wavy hair who kind of waves her hands around when she speaks :D, now I’ll get another image in my head for Finn. I’ve corrected the mistake on both pages it was wrong on, and I’ve credited you as Finn F. in the 4 you appear on. If it’s any consolation, I did think Star-kwafie was a man! Hadn’t made the connection that they were the same person. I’ve added the DeviantArt link to the picture that’s on there too. If you prefer “their” instead of “his” or any other change, just let me know and I’ll alter that. It’s actually a pet hate of mine when people write “she” and “her” for synesthetes by default (and also when article writers don’t bother checking or updating the old belief that there were more female synesthetes than male), so there was nothing intentional about it!

      Beautiful art on your site by the way. And that’s great if you like the Tree. Thanks!

    2. This was such a delightful comment to receive - I'm so flattered that my drawings have meant so much to you! (and that you like my other art!) Now that I think about it, I haven't really heard others discuss spatial sequences based on TV shows and the like, though admittedly I haven't been in many synesthesia-focused spaces lately. If you like, I can draw up my sequences for some other shows and movie series... I barely think about it because it's so natural for me, but I definitely get strong sequence impressions from all sorts of fictional series. Maybe it has something to do with being a writer! :)

      Don't worry about the mix-up! I think I tend to have a more "feminine" typing style? And though it's not me, I like the image of a wavy-haired lady who waves her hands around! Also, I didn't realize that the "more female than male synesthetes" was an outdated belief - how interesting!

    3. Thinking about this more, I just remembered my old Wordpress site, where I shared more about my experiences with synesthesia, as well as the results of a few surveys I conducted in 2016 within a synesthesia mailing list. I'd privated those a couple years ago, but in case they're of interest to you (or anyone else), I just went back and put them all up again!

    4. That’s fantastic to know, and also to know that it’s rekindled your interest in the syn theme. Of course I would love to see any more drawings you might like to produce!! Actually I’ll be making a new addition to this very page today as just yesterday, by chance, in Reddit someone appeared describing their spatial sequence of school subjects and it was a great post so I asked if I can include it. Hopefully this will continue and more spatial synesthetes for other sequences will appear and it’ll become clear that it’s not as rare as it originally appeared, it just wasn’t as well-known.
      So my original perception of Flappyfluellen doesn’t exist any more, but I must say I thought she was very assertive, with a strong sense of purpose. Definitely very masculine in that. She was quite glamorous also. She would make a great fictional character. That’s great you’re a writer. Do tell me more if you want!
      I suppose it isn’t so easy for anyone at all to keep up with all the latest research, but yes, it’s been known for some time that the women-to-men imbalance was really just a result of self-disclosure being much more likely in the case of women. That was a study led by Julia Simner and it dispelled some other myths too, as the first very large study that didn’t depend on self-referral, as it captured people attending an exhibition with no knowledge that they were going to be asked about synesthesia. Here’s the link if you were interested:
      Thanks for restoring the lost surveys to your synesthesia blog, I shall certainly be reading that again! The colour surveys look interesting so I think I might find some material to link there!

  2. I believe I have sound-spatial synesthesia, if thats an accepted name for it. I describe it looking like number/letter form but with songs, they go up and down and in various directions throughout. One of my better examples is a song from my childhood, since childhood songs tend to have the strongest associations for me, "someday" by No More Kings, it goes diagonally down to the right, until you get to the bridge, where it starts going up diagonally and then flattening out at the end. I get a very specific visual image of this whenever i listen to it however I don't see it in the space around me. I believe my timbre-color can tie into this, as instruments go different directions in my headspace when visualizing a song, saxophone and clarinet go downwards for example, This is a bit more tied to my physical space unlike songs.

    I've met others online with sound-spatial and they have their own unique experiences and I think its a really cool type!

  3. I call it “mapping”. I’m severely combined type adhd & autistic & have a hearing issue: using imagined mental maps like this is the only way I can communicate at all. I use it for everything. It’s how I remember. It’s how I hold a thought to talk about it. It’s how I understand what others are saying. It’s how my mind shows my body how to bend, fast like lightning, in a vaguely human-shaped diagram, so I don’t get hurt when I fall. =)

    I’m ecstatic to find other people do it too. It helps to prove there are previously established human parameters for my existence, so it’s allowed to be true.

    1. Very interesting, Daisy, thanks for telling us about your case and I'm glad you've found a starting point for finding other people who perceive things like you do!

  4. This makes me feel incredibly seen, but I wonder if there might be some overlap with other types? I found this page without ever knowing synesthesia had so many variants or considering it might apply to me, just frustrated with never being able to find a way to organize my thoughts that quite "fits comfortably" and researching things I might not have tried yet. The phrase that popped in my head today is that it feels like my brain would work best in a language I don't speak, or a dimension I can't see. And that led me here!

    I've always found deep satisfaction in planning and organizing ideas as a hobby (as a shorthand, my fiancé and I call it "scheming”). Today specifically, I’ve been novel planning. In my head, I have this sense of all my plot threads, character arcs, themes, and "vibes" laid out and overlapping in a complex web with different "shapes" (for lack of a better term) assigned based on what kind of concept it is and how it connects to other concepts. For instance, a theme is more of a foggy haze, while a plot thread looks more like a spiky line graph.

    Tools like “mind map” computer programs, kanban boards for project management, or using a ginormous whiteboard (especially when they combine with color-coding systems) can mostly help with the spatial aspect of how my brain works, but there are a couple other facets they don't quite satisfy--
    1) I really need 3D, which is only really possible on a computer program. But a screen is still 2D and the controls can feel very limiting, so the itch isn't entirely scratched. (I have yet to try a tablet or VR/AR, which I think would be closer but I suspect a tactile element might still be missing.)
    2) Written words don't properly capture the "feeling" of a concept for me, so even mapping out little blurbs of text can only go so far when it's so clunky having to read back all these words that bog down my mind with their messiness. I don't have a great way of describing this, especially because I do enjoy reading and writing, it's just that for my own thoughts I wish I could use something other than a phonetic alphabet maybe? Using doodles on my mind maps helps a little, but with something like noveling, it can be really difficult to capture a complex idea in a simple image when my mind can just "sense" the concept through feelings and colors and shapes that are much harder to capture on paper.
    3) Sometimes I think the layout of these concepts might be dynamic too. Like with the noveling example, in my mind I see the shapes representing my characters physically moving between plot events or along plot threads, with their shape morphing as they are changed by these experiences.

    The end result is that I constantly feel like my mind is buzzing with these abstract layouts of interconnected ideas, and trying to get them out is like being unable to fully scratch an itch. On the bright side, when the concepts are simple enough to have a more "conventional" layout in my head, that means I kick butt at creating project plans to share with people, complete with neatly color-coded graphics.

    Excited and curious to hear if others can relate to any combination of these things! Especially if you've found good tools for untangling the mind webs when they're feeling extra abstract and don't translate well.

    1. Hi! Have you seen this page of the Tree?
      You might find something in line with your experiences there!