Tactile-gustatory and tactile-olfactory synesthesia

Alternative names are touch-taste and touch-smell (or touch-to-taste and touch-to-smell)

These types of synesthesia consist of experiencing taste or smell sensations triggered by the sense of touch. They can be a response to one of two types of stimulus: either touching certain textures, or being touched. They are very uncommon types. According to Sean Day's study with data on 1,143 synesthetes, 1.14% of them report touch-taste experiences and just 0.35% touch-smell.

Here are some descriptions written by people with these types of synesthesia:


Two synesthetes who perceive taste sensations on touching things:

“Touching certain textures is revoltingly terrible- can taste like terrible foods, while other ones are quite lovely.

A particular favorite of mine is soft yarn tastes warm and sweet? Kind of like fresh cup cakes out of the oven. It drove me to be an avid crocheter. Touching my own upper arms tastes like saltines. The fabric on the mattress I had growing up was blue cheesish? Yeasty and cheesy and absolutely revolting.”

(Source: This post on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia2020.)

“I experience tastes whenever I come in physical contact with anything. For example, my phone screen or anything glassy for that matter tastes like dark cherries.”

(Question: If you touch two different things at once, do you taste both? what does cat fur taste like when you touch it?)

“Yes, I taste them both but they do not mix. I taste them both separately. And cats tend to taste like peanut butter.

I absolutely despise the exterior of jeans. They taste like raw fish.”

(Source: This post and comments on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2018.)

A synesthete who perceives taste sensations (together with colour) on being touched:

“I've always had colors associated with touch. (…)

It's most intense with light touch. On the top of my head, it's normally a rainbow of pastel colours (…). I also associate it with the taste of Smarties candies in the US. (…)

Throughout my body, it's similar to the colors when touched on my face, but it's a rainbow of colors. On the back of my body, it has that dark background and reminds me of the taste of jawbreakers at times."

(Source: This comment on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2022.)


"For example, if someone touches my arm, it's a floral smell. But if someone touches my chest, it's the smell of warm clothes."

(Source: This post on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2018.)

A case of acquired tactile-gustatory synesthesia

This article The Bitter Touch: Acquired Tactile-Gustatory Synesthesia (Cambridge University Press) describes a case study of a person who developed what could be considered a form of tactile-gustatory synesthesia after experiencing a schizoaffective disorder. It discusses the possible neurological reasons for these perceptions.

This page last updated: 23 September 2023


  1. Wow. This is so crazy. Never in my life did I think i would find someone experiencing this with me, I’ve never been able to find any info on Tactile-Gustatory Synthesia until now, my dad and my grandmother both had numerical sythesia and I’ve had this since I was just 3… so wild to see someone else experiencing this. I had a fit when someone gave me a corduroy bear as a child and it tasted spicy, nobody understood why I hated it so much

  2. My daughter just told me she hates cracking her knuckles because it tastes like sour lemons. I have spatial synesthesia and my dad has a color number one.

  3. I love to forage plants - however when I pick certain plants I get a strong taste of the plant on my tongue. Without it going anywhere near my mouth. I was shocked to discover that this isn't a common experience. I thought it was normal 😆

  4. Twenty minutes ago I discovered my 18 month old daughter seems to have it, I was brushing her hair with a soft bristle brush and she reached out and touched it, her jaw started going and her tongue was out of her mouth, I noticed it straight away as I was remembering a documentary i watched a few years ago with people who have the condition, I offered her some other items to touch and no reaction from her mouth, I again offered the soft bristle hair brush and the same reaction, I repeated this several times with other items.... nothing, but the brush, I am convinced this is what she's feeling/ tasting, she has trisomy 21 "down syndrome " I'll be contacting the down syndrome association shortly to see if there are others like my daughter out there as this could potentially offer a better insight into her upbringing.
    How this helps anybody who reads it.

  5. OK my experience was when I was younger and it lasted briefly but would get flashes of it every now and then in the years to follow (not anymore). It was almost always experiencing things through taste, but it was in my stomach sensation and tied to emotions. The best I could describe one reoccurring experience was the taste of my left hand 'growing'.. it was almost as if I was 'tasting' density and energy changing. Things around me that were more dense had a 'bass' like taste sensation and small things like a dot on the wall were high frequency like nails on a chalkboard and anxiety inducing. It's all so weird to explain , but i never remember the taste like a specific food thing, it always just 'tasted'like the thing i was seeing/feeling. If anyone can relate lmk 😄