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 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 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 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 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

    1. I have had this my whole life and hid it from people. I vaguely heard of synesthesia years ago but always attributed it to numbers or colors, which isn't my thing. I lead a fairly normal life, work, family and for the most part, all is good. But if I am out and see a copper sink or appliance, I immediately get a taste of sweaty metallic car keys (from the 70's, not the new keys). Likewise, when I taste whiskey, it tastes like plaid - yes, the fabric. I suspect this is a rare form of synesthesia.

  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 😄

  6. I have been trying to work out the process where, when I touch certain things, I taste them on my tongue. Medical enquiries have led nowhere and I was wondering if it is a type of Synesthesia. These things don’t have a “ smell”, so I don’t believe it is related.

    1. Hi! I answered you over on the Do I Have Synesthesia page. I think this would be gustatory hyperphantasia rather than synesthesia.

    2. I disagree. Gustatory hyperphantasia is linked to tasting things that you can see. I can taste lemons if I touch lemon juice or taste culinary oils that I use as a natural alternative to body lotion.

  7. Thank you so much for this page. I cannot believe that I finally found something that sounds similar to what my father has struggled with his whole adult life. He has said that since early adulthood, and getting progressively severe, he gets a taste in his mouth whenever he touches certain things. As he has gotten older, and as, possibly, dyes and chemical processes have changed, it has gotten worse. He seems to be able to touch most food-grade plastics (bread bags, some plastic storage bags, deli plastic etc) but paper products now produce a taste quickly that is akin to hydrogen peroxide or similar. It used to go away after a good night sleep but over the last several years, lasts days. Washing his mouth, immediately washing the point of contact none of it helps. It does seem to be neurological as his brain knows by looking at many things that he should touch them. He has struggled with this to the point that he keeps mending his socks, underwear, clothes etc because often when he touches no clothes, they produce the taste. He wears food bags when having to handle paper and has his phone and most other things wrapped in food wrap. He is not a recluse, but close because of how unpleasant the sensation is when he touches things that produce the taste. Does anyone know of someone similar? Of course, my big question is how do I get him his life back? My mother recently passed away and she was the one that mended items and touched things that he could not and am curious to see if there is something that we can do to finally get some answers. Of course, he has done all of the allergy workups, a brain scan all of it. Thoughts? Thanks again, Kelly. :)