Ramachandran concluded that artistic people with this hyperconnectivity “. . . have excess connections so they can make these associations much more fluidly and effortlessly than all of the less-gifted people."

But. Ninety-eight percent of people can think abstractly in some manner, and can create and understand some form of metaphorical concepts (Ramachandran); we may not all have the metaphorical genius of a William Shakespeare or Emily Dickenson, but we all have the foundations of synesthesia, brain cross-talk, to some degree. Our ability to think abstractly is an example of our synesthesist abilities and could be the link that made synesthesia necessary for our survival as a species. Making metaphors is not just fun and games for the poets, it is a hugely important evolutionary mechanism that allows us to think abstractly and to communicate concepts with language.

Ramachandran hypothesizes that most people’s metaphorical skills are not as vast as the great artists and poets because we have learned to turn them off, to deny them, to stop the cross-talk in our brains. (This resonated with me having recently read that we do the same thing with smell: new studies show that humans have as broad a sense of smell as dogs, but that we have simply turned off our awareness. The smells record on brain scans, but we are unaware of them consciously. Self preservation perhaps?)

We are all synesthetes in denial, Ramachandran proposes - providing examples from his research as to how we link a word like “kiki” with sharpness and a word like “booba” with a bulbus shape. His research does not seem now to assess how or why most of us turn off our full spectrum potential for cross-connectivity metaphorical achievement while others, like Shakespeare and Dickenson, seem to have had their hyper connectivity in full working order. Maybe that will be explained in his later studies.

For now, I plan to play with synesthesia and metaphor myself and to look at it more deeply in connection with Amy Beach’s tendency toward color synesthesia.