Sensory Overload

Marilyn Monroe is said to have experienced it …

Marilyn Monroe from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Have you?

That is, have you tasted green?

Or smelled peach?


Not the fruits, mind you, but the COLORS.

The sensory overlap of taste, smell, and vision is known as “synesthesia,” which Wikipedia defines as “a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.”

Translation: turquoise blue might seem to smell something like peppermint, and pale yellow could trigger taste buds to sense banana.

“Each sense has a pathway to the brain. These paths are parallel to each other. However, in some situations, a crossover from one pathway to the other occurs,” explains “Seeing the color yellow-green may evoke taste sensations of sourness; pink may evoke sweetness. Seeing the color gray may evoke olfactory sensations of smokiness.”

Synesthesia has been described as an uncommon phenomenon, but is it really all that rare?

Here’s a simple little experiment to test your own reactions. When you look at the following images of richly colored gems, do your taste buds sense sweetness or tickle with tang? Do you associate each with a particular flavor or fragrance?

Photo by Fiona Storey via Wikimedia Commons

“Color psychologists have long known that our favorite colors tell a lot about us. They’re a manifestation of our emotions and moods, and the colors we prefer also allow conclusions to be drawn about our fragrance preferences,” reports Leffingwell & Associates, an information and service provider to flavor and fragrance industries. “A woman who picks the color combination of yellow, orange, red, and pale green, for example, is not only extroverted, active, optimistic, and positive—she’ll also tend to prefer fresh-floral fragrances.”

I’m guessing that a gal’s palette preference also varies with the day, the season, and so on. As the sun streams through my window this morning, my soul is aglow in a rich shade of yellow—amber, to be precise—and I can’t help but think of honey, mmmm …

Photo by Hashoo Foundation USA – Houston, TX via Flickr

Your turn—what colors are you feeling/smelling/tasting today?

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    When I look at the colored stones, I have several associations. One is jelly belly beans. However, I don’t seem to have an automatic taste association. Does that make me weird?

  2. Karlyne says:

    Didn’t get anything from the rocks, but then I don’t like jelly beans. How abnormal is that?!? But, the honey picture? Now that made me taste honey! With yellow butter…

  3. bonnie ellis says:

    I love the turquoise color. It reminds me of blue raspberry popsicles. I must be thinking of food today. Pink reminds me of the smell of roses and orange, mandarin orange soap. Maybe I am weird too.

  4. Em says:

    I did a science fair project on Color Psychology (especially as it relates to design) when I was in high school back in the late 1980s! I was excited to read your post as no one seems to discuss this much. I don’t even recall it being part of an environmental psychology-style class I took in college as a architecture student.

    This morning, my backyard was shady and green. My little garden is very green without many blossoms at the moment. It “tasted” like sugar snap peas to me.

  5. Genevieve says:

    your rocks made me taste cinnamon (red), and metal (silver)…. wow, that’s sooo cool!!

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