Colour Experience


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A colour-blind person who listens to colour

Neil Harbisson is completely colour-blind. As a child, he was diagnosed with achromatopsia, which means that he sees the world in black and white. Now, with the help of engineers, Neil has become a “human cyborg” and can “hear” colour. He uses a tool which samples colour in the environment and converts it to differently pitched sounds. After learning an association between colour and sound, Neil is able to distinguish between 360 different hues. Read more on the story here or listen to his TED talk.

Neil’s learnt associations between colour and sound resemble synaesthesia – an automatic merging of the senses. Many forms of inborn synaesthesia exist, including but not limited to pairings between colour and sound, colour and grapheme (letter or number), sound and flavour, and affect-related synaesthesias.