"One day, I told my father 'I realized that to write an "R" ones starts writing a "P", later drawing a line to complete the letter. Later I was surprised to discover that I could transform a yellow letter into an orange one by adding only a line."

The great majority of us will never understand the sensation which the author Lynne Duffy wrote about in her work Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens. In spite of that, according to recent studies by Dr. Jamie Ward of College University, London, we all possess a small degree of this rare quality of intermixing images, sounds and other sensations, called "synesthesia."

Synesthesia, branded in the past as a result of mental disorder, drug addiction, or excessive imagination, today is studied in the field of neurology as a peculiar capacity possessed by some individuals for associating, before a determinate stimulus, sensations apparently unconnected or belonging to another sense. It is such that synesthetes can hear a certain sound when contemplating a work of art, evoke a certain taste when touching the surface of something, or smell a characteristic aroma when listening to a melody. Strange? Yes; but real without a doubt.

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Booba and Kiki: which is which? The chances are that you intuit it correctly.

The people who possess this sensual inter-crossing do not imagine the phenomenon, but truly experience it, as was confirmed several years ago through countless studies. Furthermore, this so-called sickness does not seem deserving of such a classification, since practically all synesthetes declare that they enjoy this quality, distinguishing them from those who only are only capable of discrete sense perception.

In any case, in spite of us not being able to consciously taste the sound of a waterfall, feel the colour of a tenor's singing, or listen to the sweet melody of one of Zhang Cuiyang's paintings, the majority of us can associate senses - in an imperceptible way. You don't believe it?

To demonstrate, it will be enough to try to work out which name corresponds to which of the two figures in the photo, presented by the investigator Wolfgang Köhler in his "Kiki and Booba" test. Not suprisingly, 95% to 98% of people respond as expected.

Another study made by Dr. Jamie Ward to demonstrate the slight intercrossing of sense that we all possess, was by urging half a dozen synesthetes to draw and write their visual experiences while listening to the music of the New London Orchestra . A control group was recruited from the average, non-synesthete population to do the same activity. The images of both groups were later edited into a video, overlaying the music that inspired the would-be artists. The video was then shown in a museum, with 200 visitors being selected at random to give their opinions about which images they thought corresponded best with the music.

Bodhisattva. One of Zhang Cuiying's artworks.

The conclusion was not only that the synesthetic people expressed the melody better (as would be expected), but that the majority of people also interpret the world in a slightly, though surely less consciously, synesthetic way. In fact, some neurologists calculate that up to 10% of humanity "suffers from" some degree of synesthesia. What is known precisely is that at least 6% of artists have the capacity of crossing their senses when they are creating their works of art. According to the neurologist Ramachandran in the Univeristy of California "Processes similar to synesthesia may underlie our general capacity for metaphor and be critical to creativity."

Given that all of humanity is synesthetic to some degree, do not be surprised, reader, that your response probably belongs to the 98% group - those that attribute "Kiki" to the pointy figure on the left and "Booba" to the rounded one on the right. Although you should take yourself to be a real synesthete if, in reading this article, you encountered an especially interesting aroma.