Voice-to-taste synesthesia

A subtype of auditory-gustatory synesthesia

For some synesthetes, the sound of the human voice triggers a taste sensation. Each voice, or each type of voice, has its own taste. Depending on the particular synesthete this could be because of its timbre, volume, tone, accent, whether it is a man’s or a woman’s voice, whether the speech is natural or forced, the type of person speaking, or other factors.

Voice-to-taste synesthesia can occur in synesthetes who have no other gustatory concurrents triggered by sound stimuli, and it can therefore be considered a specific subtype.

If the synesthetic concurrents are evoked not by the different voices but by the words they are saying, it would be a case of lexical-gustatory synesthesia in response to spoken words rather than voice-taste synesthesia. It is also possible for both types of synesthesia, lexical-gustatory and voice-to-taste, to coexist and interact in the same person, as is the case of the second of the personal accounts given below.

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

The tastes are always stronger when I first hear someone's voice, or haven't seen them in a while and talk with them again face to face. Tastes are stronger when someone sings in front of me. When I'm in a crowded area it's quite overwhelming and can't really sample everyone's voice correctly without wanting to constantly drink water. I can't taste my own voice or my immediate family's.

Once I've gotten to know someone and hear their voice often enough the taste of their voice gets more subtle and gradually fades away.

I can't taste the voice of someone in a movie because they are acting, it's not their real voice. Even if it's in their own accent, that's not how they talk. It's like if you were to give me a photo of an orange and then tell me to eat it. It would not taste like orange.

I once had a professor whose voice tasted like doritos and sometimes pizza combined. It was the longest class of my life because it was like I was always eating it in class. I felt so thirsty.”

(Source: This post on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020. It’s worthwhile reading this whole post with all its comments, as it contains some very interesting examples of this type of synesthesia).

For this person, different accents evoke different taste sensations:

“For example: a Georgia accents taste like ultra sweet peach tea and eucalyptus. A Texas accent tastes like dry mouth, dust in my teeth, pinto beans, and cumin. The cumin sits like a dry pile of flavor in the middle of my tongue.”

(Source: This post on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020.)

Go to the page on auditory-gustatory synesthesia in general

Go to the page on voice-colour and voice-shape synesthesia

For voice-to-smell synesthesia, see the page on auditory-olfactory synesthesia

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