The Man Who Tasted Shapes

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Paw Prints, Nov 11, 2008 - Medical - 268 pages
27 Reviews
Richard Cytowic's dinner host apologized, "There aren't enough points on the chicken!" He felt flavor also as a physical shape in his hands, and the chicken had come out "too round." This offbeat comment in 1980 launched Cytowic's exploration into the oddity called synesthesia. He is one of the few world authorities on the subject.

Sharing a root with anesthesia ("no sensation"), synesthesia means "joined sensation," whereby a voice, for example, is not only heard but also seen, felt, or tasted. The trait is involuntary, hereditary, and fairly common. It stayed a scientific mystery for two centuries until Cytowic's original experiments led to a neurological explanation—and to a new concept of brain organization that accentuates emotion over reason.

That chicken dinner two decades ago led Cytowic to explore a deeper reality that, he argues, exists in everyone but is often just below the surface of awareness (which is why finding meaning in our lives can be elusive). In this medical detective adventure, Cytowic shows how synesthesia, far from being a mere curiosity, illuminates a wide swath of mental life and leads to a new view of what is means to be human—a view that turns upside down conventional ideas about reason, emotional knowledge, and self-understanding.

This 2003 edition features a new afterword.

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Review: The Man Who Tasted Shapes

User Review  - Meg - Goodreads

While the author tends to pontificate on several of his own opinions throughout the presentation of his research, this book was incredibly interesting. Maybe, though, there could have been less ... Read full review

Review: The Man Who Tasted Shapes

User Review  - Julie Davis - Goodreads

I read this back in 2004 after my daughter told me that she has synesthesia. While we now regard it as a fun parlor trick, her description (before we knew there was a word for it) literally made me ... Read full review

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