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Thread: The Senses: Why only five?

  1. #1 The Senses: Why only five? 
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    In school, we are only taught five of the senses. Why aren't we taught the others? And why isn't emotion a taught subject at school? Isn't that the most important sense of them all?


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    Emotion is not a sense. It is a trait of emotive learning. A learned and conditioned reflex. Name the five;
    Sight, Sound, smell, taste, touch.
    Other conditioned reflexes are heat and cold.. bitter or sweet. soft or hard. Bright dull and loud and quiet.


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    Love and hate.
    When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
    Jimi Hendrix
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFosterKid View Post
    In school, we are only taught five of the senses.
    I hate that as well, since there many more...and I'm not talking about emotions; in kids terms they would include temperature, equilibrium, position of our body relative to other parts and pain.
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    ~ I think this is fare.. That in a science forum we should try to be scientific. That I see some other 'senses' are thrown in..
    No to love and hate.. They are purely and surely just emotive responses. feelings of emotive response are not senses..
    Temperature recognition is part of the touch sensation. That the hot or cold is felt..
    ~ and that 'Lynx-Fox.' is a little confused.. ... however I will judge balance as a sense.. yep.


    That if the 'Like' was working, I did like the following answer..
    Last edited by astromark; July 9th, 2014 at 12:34 AM.
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    Temperature recognition is part of the touch sensation.
    It's, for some odd reason put in that category but shouldn't be considering it's it's completely different sensors and nerves.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    the main one is never discussed : the sense of self, the awareness where various parts of your body are without having to look at them
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Why aren't other senses taught in school? Public schooling, in the U.S. Northwest, generally steers clear of emotional, psychological and moral development. That's left to the students family and community (and school is not community, unfortunately).

    Now, if you're going to a religious school or some other private school, you may encounter some education in these fields.

    Either way, I wouldn't rely on school for my education, and therefor, it wouldn't particularly disappoint me if something were missing. You are free to do your own emotional experiments, as well as visual, auditory, and so on.
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    Interestingly, in humans there are actually five types of sensory cells: chemoreceptors (taste and smell), mechanoreceptors (touch, hearing, balance and proprioception), thermoreceptors (thermoreception), pain receptors (pain and itching), and photoreceptors (vision). Others, not found in humans, include electroreceptors and magnetoreceptors.
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    So, interestingly taste and smell is the same sense. So we only have 4 senses.. And hearing and touching is kind of the same, so we have only 3 senses. Photons, movement & chemicals.

    Because we could stretch every one of our senses to detect things like redox potential (pain), saline concentration (pain), toxicity (death), pH (pain) and high energy gamma rays (blindness, radiation sickness & death)

    We can basically detect SO much with our body. You have a substance which is liquid, and one that is solid, and we can detect which is which by trying to pour it in a glass, the solid will not fit in the glass, or become the glass. But we also could use our body and try to hit it with all your force, if your arm or wrist breaks, its a solid, if it doesn't break its a liquid, phase detector. We also have a pretty dependable chronometer, which is our eyesight, we can tell the time by looking at the position of the sun.

    Where do we stop with defining senses... We only have 3 anyway...
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Interestingly, in humans there are actually five types of sensory cells: chemoreceptors (taste and smell), mechanoreceptors (touch, hearing, balance and proprioception), thermoreceptors (thermoreception), pain receptors (pain and itching), and photoreceptors (vision). Others, not found in humans, include electroreceptors and magnetoreceptors.
    Does the sensation that our bladder is full or the need to urinate fall under mechanoreceptors, nociceptors, or a combination of those two and perhaps others?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    We can basically detect SO much with our body. You have a substance which is liquid, and one that is solid, and we can detect which is which by trying to pour it in a glass, the solid will not fit in the glass, or become the glass. But we also could use our body and try to hit it with all your force, if your arm or wrist breaks, its a solid, if it doesn't break its a liquid, phase detector.
    Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
    Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. -Spoon Boy
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    Water never becomes the cup, it is just inside the cup. Air actually forms around the cup, and basically becomes the cup. Be like the wind, my friend.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Ha, someone else said that to me today!
    Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. -Spoon Boy
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    I'm a synesthetic - I associate words and concepts ( but not letters or numbers - here is where I'm different from most other synesthetics ) with colours, shapes and forms. Example - the word "year" feels light red to me, and the associated concept ( "year" as in a period of time ) is rectangular in shape and feels a little heavy. Thursdays are green, August is bottom left, and the sky is feather light. Other sensations I have are a lot less easy to describe with words, so I won't try. These sensations are completely involuntary, in the same sense that you don't "decide" to see or hear something, it just happens.

    Is this considered a "sense" ? Just curious.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Is this considered a "sense" ? Just curious.
    Somehow I doubt it, if we are talking about sensory mechanism for receiving input from stimuli and not how the brain interprets sensory input and integrates the different information in an associative fashion (such as the colour orange/red commonly associated with the sensation of warm/hot).

    It is however interesting to know that I've recently chanced upon this JAXA article regarding plant life having the ability to sense gravity (or at the very least; gravity affects their growth orientation) and how they and their roots may grow somewhat differently when in microgravity when compared to in the presence of terrestrial gravity.

    Quote Originally Posted by JAXA
    On the space shuttle flight STS-95, which included Astronaut Chiaki Mukai, experiments were conducted to compare ground-grown and space-grown Arabidopsis and rice. On Earth, aerial parts of the plant (shoots) grow upward while roots grow downward. However, the experiments showed that in a microgravity environment, the growth direction is unregulated, and some roots even extend in the same direction as the aerial stems (Figure 1).

    ...

    You have probably seen Morning Glory vines growing upward, spiraling around a pole. This is thanks to circumnutation, which also has something to do with gravity. Previous studies have shown that stem circumnutation requires an endodermis, surrounding vascular tissue and made up of gravisensing cells. In a nutshell, without the so-called SCARECROW gene, which is essential for the proper differentiation of endodermal cells, the Morning Glory cannot sense gravity, and as a result, cannot circumnutate - its vines cannot twine. This indicates that circumnutation and spiral growth are gravity-dependent phenomena. I am very much looking forward to seeing whether circumnutation, or twining of vine plants, can be observed in the weightlessness of space.

    JAXA | How Do Plants Grow in Microgravity?
    Last edited by scoobydoo1; July 11th, 2014 at 04:26 AM. Reason: typo correction
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    It's a method for memorizing. We use images, sounds and smell, or the memory of this, to extend our mental capabilities and efficiency. It is an evolutionary deficiency, but also an asset of our mind to be as versatile as it can be.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I'm a synesthetic - I associate words and concepts ( but not letters or numbers - here is where I'm different from most other synesthetics ) with colours, shapes and forms. Example - the word "year" feels light red to me, and the associated concept ( "year" as in a period of time ) is rectangular in shape and feels a little heavy. Thursdays are green, August is bottom left, and the sky is feather light. Other sensations I have are a lot less easy to describe with words, so I won't try. These sensations are completely involuntary, in the same sense that you don't "decide" to see or hear something, it just happens.

    Is this considered a "sense" ? Just curious.
    I think it'd depend on who you are talking to and how you choose to define "sense".

    When a small molecule binds either to a receptor on the tongue or in the nose, there are two very different sensations produced in the brain depending upon which receptor was bound. Neither of these sensations (taste and smell) are "real" and are not intrinsic properties of the small molecule itself. Same goes for things like the sensations of red or green. Neither the concept of red or green exists anywhere but inside our minds and they are not intrinsic properties of matter or energy (there are no red photons, in other words). It is not difficult to imagine an alien that perceives an entirely different sensation when a small molecule binds to one of its taste receptors. For sake of argument, we could imagine our alien perceiving a screeching noise when an acidic substance is consumed. The sensations perceived by our senses are entirely subjective.

    Because we are not all synesthetes what you have is considered to be defective. If everyone but me was a synesthete, then I'd likely be considered to have a disorder akin to severe dyslexia. Who is to say, really, whether Thursday's evoke green or not? Perhaps I'm just the equivalent of blind, and Thursday's really are green?

    Back on track: I''m not sure if this would be considered an additional sense. I'd see it as a mixing of senses. It would be difficult to say what exactly you are sensing with this sense. What is it about Thursday that makes green? Is it the shape of the word? Do words that look like Thursday also evoke green? If it's something else, then I'm not sure what is being sensed, in the traditional sense of the word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Is this considered a "sense" ? Just curious.
    Somehow I doubt it, if we are talking about sensory mechanism for receiving input from stimuli and not how the brain interprets sensory input and integrates the different information in an associative fashion (such as the colour orange/red commonly associated with the sensation of warm/hot).

    It is however interesting to know that I've recently chanced upon this JAXA article regarding plant life having the ability to sense gravity (or at the very least; gravity affects their growth orientation) and how they and their roots may grow somewhat differently when in microgravity when compared to in the presence of terrestrial gravity.

    Quote Originally Posted by JAXA
    On the space shuttle flight STS-95, which included Astronaut Chiaki Mukai, experiments were conducted to compare ground-grown and space-grown Arabidopsis and rice. On Earth, aerial parts of the plant (shoots) grow upward while roots grow downward. However, the experiments showed that in a microgravity environment, the growth direction is unregulated, and some roots even extend in the same direction as the aerial stems (Figure 1).

    ...

    You have probably seen Morning Glory vines growing upward, spiraling around a pole. This is thanks to circumnutation, which also has something to do with gravity. Previous studies have shown that stem circumnutation requires an endodermis, surrounding vascular tissue and made up of gravisensing cells. In a nutshell, without the so-called SCARECROW gene, which is essential for the proper differentiation of endodermal cells, the Morning Glory cannot sense gravity, and as a result, cannot circumnutate - its vines cannot twine. This indicates that circumnutation and spiral growth are gravity-dependent phenomena. I am very much looking forward to seeing whether circumnutation, or twining of vine plants, can be observed in the weightlessness of space.

    JAXA | How Do Plants Grow in Microgravity?
    Synethetics are an interesting group. At first scientists thought it was bunk, or associative, like you explained with orange and hot. But neuroscientist VS Ramachandran has done some interesting experiments to test whether the phenomenon is real. Some synethestics see numbers as colors. So Ramachandran theorized that if that were true, they should be able to quickly notice several of "7"s scattered in a field of L's and I's and 5's, the same way you or I would instantly spot a few colored numbers in a field of black ones. And guess what, they did.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    the main one is never discussed : the sense of self, the awareness where various parts of your body are without having to look at them
    Is this complimentary to the "sense of identity" (it is discussed because I opened a thread on it recently The sense of Identity) in that your "sense" is "physical" and "mine" is purely mental ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    the main one is never discussed : the sense of self, the awareness where various parts of your body are without having to look at them
    Is this complimentary to the "sense of identity" (it is discussed because I opened a thread on it recently The sense of Identity) in that your "sense" is "physical" and "mine" is purely mental ?
    This becomes more than slightly complicated due to how the brain can sometimes register false sensory input from hyperexcitation of certain regions of the brodmann area; such as in the case of phantom limb pain in amputees.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    Synethetics are an interesting group. At first scientists thought it was bunk, or associative, like you explained with orange and hot. But neuroscientist VS Ramachandran has done some interesting experiments to test whether the phenomenon is real. Some synethestics see numbers as colors. So Ramachandran theorized that if that were true, they should be able to quickly notice several of "7"s scattered in a field of L's and I's and 5's, the same way you or I would instantly spot a few colored numbers in a field of black ones. And guess what, they did.
    I do find the phenomena interesting. I would be very interested in understanding how the association works at a deeper level, as in how the association was (arbitrary?) formed without the subject's awareness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    I would be very interested in understanding how the association works at a deeper level
    It's a bit more than just an "association", I think. When you look at the sky, you don't abstractly associate the object ( sky ) with a colour ( blue ) - rather, the sky actually is blue, it's a quality and an attribute that the object intrinsically possesses within the context of your perception, whether you are aware of it or not. You cannot somehow "unlearn" this and change the association to something different - you will always see the sky as blue. I obviously can't speak for others, but my own synethesia works the same way - the year actually is rectangular, Thursdays are green, and August is bottom left. In my perception these are intrinsic qualities in the same way that the sky is blue for a normal-sighted person; the sensation is very much different from associating "red" with "warm". Also, some words ( e.g. the Irish name "Sinead" ) carry colours that do not physically exist, i.e. colours that are not part of the "rainbow" in the real universe, and that have no name; that alone goes to show that there is more involved here than mere association. I am usually somewhat hesitant to mention this particular aspect, as the reaction I get is usually one of disbelief.

    Interestingly, some ( but not all ) of these sensations vary across languages - for example, the English word "Thursday" feels green to me just as the day itself does, but the German word "Donnerstag" ( which has the exact same meaning ) has a completely different colour, a very very dark hue of brown, almost black. All words in the French language are almost a uniform colour to me ( shades of red ), they only differ in saturation, hue and intensity. Mandarin Chinese is mostly shades of blue in various tones. However, the year is always rectangular, no matter in which language. I also find that colours sometimes shift depending on my mood and physical condition. Furthermore, synethesia manifests differently for different people - most synesthetics feel colours on the level of individual letters and numbers, which doesn't work for me at all - all letters and numbers are a uniform black to me, but some mathematical symbols have colours, e.g. the integral sign which is dark blue. Other than that it is just words ( with meanings ) and some abstract concepts that carry colours for me; a string of random letters or a meaningless word in a language I don't know is just black and/or neutral.

    As to how and why all of this works - I have absolutely no idea I was born with it, so for me it's just a normal part of my perception, and I wasn't even aware of the fact that not everyone else shares these sensations until I was well into primary school. I can't see any discernible pattern or rationale in it. However, I cannot even remotely imagine what the world would be like without this, a huge junk would be "missing" for me, much like someone going colour-blind misses an integral part of his world.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    This becomes more than slightly complicated due to how the brain can sometimes register false sensory input from hyperexcitation of certain regions of the brodmann area; such as in the case of phantom limb pain in amputees.
    To continue my analogy,I wonder if loss of points of reference vis a vis identity (breavement, split ups ,emigration and all the rest) have their own "phantom" existence in the same way as truncated limbs -or are we just talking analogies?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    It's a bit more than just an "association", I think.

    ...

    Also, some words ( e.g. the Irish name "Sinead" ) carry colours that do not physically exist, i.e. colours that are not part of the "rainbow" in the real universe, and that have no name; that alone goes to show that there is more involved here than mere association.
    I'm curious. Does it happen when hearing some of the words uttered or also when reading the words in textual form? Does similar sounding key words (perhaps unrelated and in a different language) trigger the same/similar effect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I am usually somewhat hesitant to mention this particular aspect, as the reaction I get is usually one of disbelief.
    You needn't be hesitant since this is a science forum, and this condition/ability has even been noticed in Mandarin speakers as well.

    Synaesthesia in a logographic language: the c... [Conscious Cogn. 2011] - PubMed - NCBI

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Interestingly, some ( but not all ) of these sensations vary across languages - for example, the English word "Thursday" feels green to me just as the day itself does, but the German word "Donnerstag" ( which has the exact same meaning ) has a completely different colour, a very very dark hue of brown, almost black. All words in the French language are almost a uniform colour to me ( shades of red ), they only differ in saturation, hue and intensity. Mandarin Chinese is mostly shades of blue in various tones. However, the year is always rectangular, no matter in which language. I also find that colours sometimes shift depending on my mood and physical condition. Furthermore, synethesia manifests differently for different people - most synesthetics feel colours on the level of individual letters and numbers, which doesn't work for me at all - all letters and numbers are a uniform black to me, but some mathematical symbols have colours, e.g. the integral sign which is dark blue. Other than that it is just words ( with meanings ) and some abstract concepts that carry colours for me; a string of random letters or a meaningless word in a language I don't know is just black and/or neutral.
    Have you at any point in your life attempted map out the ability in detail (like in a personal journal)? It may be helpful in cross referencing similarities and differences in logographic text and/or pictograms with their auditory component. I wonder if somatic hand gestures in sign language triggers it as well, or is it the essence/meaning of a word that triggers it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I cannot even remotely imagine what the world would be like without this, a huge junk would be "missing" for me, much like someone going colour-blind misses an integral part of his world.
    I can imagine how being accustomed to an ability like that and eventually loosing it would be unpleasant (to say the least).

    I remember reading somewhere that this may run in the family. Do you know of anyone else in your family tree that has it as well? Have you tried asking?
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    This becomes more than slightly complicated due to how the brain can sometimes register false sensory input from hyperexcitation of certain regions of the brodmann area; such as in the case of phantom limb pain in amputees.
    To continue my analogy,I wonder if loss of points of reference vis a vis identity (breavement, split ups ,emigration and all the rest) have their own "phantom" existence in the same way as truncated limbs -or are we just talking analogies?
    I think the distinction here is that the word "sense" is used to describe our sensory organs that are connected to our brain, and not so much as what we find attachment to that is not a part of and external of our bodies.
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    If, our sensory organs transmit information through alteration of chemicals in the body - that is, electrochemical communication - once stimulated, is the mechanism of emotion, identity, and others not dissimilar? The sensory organs maybe sensing something external to themselves, but not always external to the body. The definition is hardly concrete.

    Maybe the question is, not what the 'sensory organs' are, as generally defined by the scientific community, but what sense is, and why it is not taught.

    Has the original poster read Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility? It is my finding that school hardly teaches anything particularly worthwhile, except as a primer to what the student my indulge in later in life. If you want to tackle some particular subject, rely not on the teachers given to you, but on the exemplars of that subject (which the teachers may aid you in). Even now, one could make a living teaching nothing but the most ancient thought (say Plato, or Confucius), for those thinkers shall never be outdone in their own craft. Each thinker then, invents her own craft.
    Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. -Spoon Boy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    I would be very interested in understanding how the association works at a deeper level
    It's a bit more than just an "association", I think. When you look at the sky, you don't abstractly associate the object ( sky ) with a colour ( blue ) - rather, the sky actually is blue, it's a quality and an attribute that the object intrinsically possesses within the context of your perception, whether you are aware of it or not. You cannot somehow "unlearn" this and change the association to something different - you will always see the sky as blue. I obviously can't speak for others, but my own synethesia works the same way - the year actually is rectangular, Thursdays are green, and August is bottom left. In my perception these are intrinsic qualities in the same way that the sky is blue for a normal-sighted person; the sensation is very much different from associating "red" with "warm". Also, some words ( e.g. the Irish name "Sinead" ) carry colours that do not physically exist, i.e. colours that are not part of the "rainbow" in the real universe, and that have no name; that alone goes to show that there is more involved here than mere association. I am usually somewhat hesitant to mention this particular aspect, as the reaction I get is usually one of disbelief.

    Interestingly, some ( but not all ) of these sensations vary across languages - for example, the English word "Thursday" feels green to me just as the day itself does, but the German word "Donnerstag" ( which has the exact same meaning ) has a completely different colour, a very very dark hue of brown, almost black. All words in the French language are almost a uniform colour to me ( shades of red ), they only differ in saturation, hue and intensity. Mandarin Chinese is mostly shades of blue in various tones. However, the year is always rectangular, no matter in which language. I also find that colours sometimes shift depending on my mood and physical condition. Furthermore, synethesia manifests differently for different people - most synesthetics feel colours on the level of individual letters and numbers, which doesn't work for me at all - all letters and numbers are a uniform black to me, but some mathematical symbols have colours, e.g. the integral sign which is dark blue. Other than that it is just words ( with meanings ) and some abstract concepts that carry colours for me; a string of random letters or a meaningless word in a language I don't know is just black and/or neutral.

    As to how and why all of this works - I have absolutely no idea I was born with it, so for me it's just a normal part of my perception, and I wasn't even aware of the fact that not everyone else shares these sensations until I was well into primary school. I can't see any discernible pattern or rationale in it. However, I cannot even remotely imagine what the world would be like without this, a huge junk would be "missing" for me, much like someone going colour-blind misses an integral part of his world.
    I'm jealous. It sounds like an interesting experience. If you're interested in some theories of how it works, theres an entire chapter devoted to it in Ramachandran's book The Tell-Tale Brain. Basically his theory involves "cross wiring," or cross activation, between certain areas of the brain. For example the area of the brain called V4 in the temporal lobe processes color and it is right next to the area responsible for number recognition. It is also close to hearing centers in the temporal lobe. So in certain individuals, cross talk between these areas results in numbers with color, or sounds with colors. But his ingenious experiments show that it's definitely an involuntary sensory process, not some abstract, metaphorical association.
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    On the other hand, Ramachandran also suggests that synesthesia and things like metaphor and our ability to understand analogies aren't totally unrelated either, nor is it entirely the result of associative learning. One example he gives involves naming shapes. People are shown two shapes - one is sort of blob like and curvy, and the other is angular and pointy. They are asked which shape would you call "bouba" and which would you call "kiki?" Almost everyone calls the curvy one bouba, and the pointy one kiki, even people who speak very different languages with different writing systems. We may have certain innate concepts of how shapes or sounds or other sensations are "alike" because of cross activation of brain areas.
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    Buddhism and other Indian epistemologies identify six "senses" as opposed to the Western identification of five. In Buddhism, "mind" denotes an internal sense organ which interacts with sense objects that include sense impressions, feelings,perceptions and volition
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayflow View Post
    In Buddhism, "mind" denotes an internal sense organ which interacts with sense objects that include sense impressions, feelings,perceptions and volition
    This is one aspect of the archaic religiophilosophy that no longer applies to modern science. In the context of the thread topic, it is a sensory processing organ for the most part, and as such is dependent on what little external sensory input it receives and registers. Sensory deprivation and phantom pain from the impairment/lost sensory organs may at times lead to excitation in certain regions of the brain that may register these excitations as still possessing those sensory organs even when they are no longer present; such as the phantom eye syndrome.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayflow View Post
    Buddhism and other Indian epistemologies identify six "senses" as opposed to the Western identification of five. In Buddhism, "mind" denotes an internal sense organ which interacts with sense objects that include sense impressions, feelings,perceptions and volition
    Is that sense referred to as the "sixth sense"?
    Last edited by Robittybob1; July 12th, 2014 at 12:57 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Does it happen when hearing some of the words uttered or also when reading the words in textual form?
    It happens both for written and spoken words, and the sensation is the same one in both cases.

    Does similar sounding key words (perhaps unrelated and in a different language) trigger the same/similar effect?
    No, it seems that sound is not the sole factor. Meaning is involved in this at least to some extent. For example, if I see a sign that is too far away for me to read, then there is no colour sensation taking place. Only when I go closer and actually read what's on the sign does the colour emerge. On the other hand, meaning does not seem to be the only determining factor either, as words with the same meaning in different languages have different colours for me.

    You needn't be hesitant since this is a science forum, and this condition/ability has even been noticed in Mandarin speakers as well.
    I was referring to the fact that I sense colours that do not exist in the "real world". This has a very pseudoscientific ring to it, and if I was "normal" and someone was telling me such a thing, I would probably dismiss him.

    Have you at any point in your life attempted map out the ability in detail (like in a personal journal)?
    No, simply because cognitive sciences aren't really my area of interest and expertise. I don't normally question my synesthesia, or wonder why it works the way it does; remember also that I was born with it, so for me it is completely normal and I can't imagine what the world would be like for someone who is not a synthetic. I know now that for most people this thing is fascinating and mysterious, but for me personally it is not, it is just normal.

    I wonder if somatic hand gestures in sign language triggers it as well, or is it the essence/meaning of a word that triggers it.
    I don't know exactly what triggers it. All I can tell you is that meaning has some role to play, since I get no sensations from languages that I do not know/understand. I remember that when I learned English in school, new words were initially neutral until I learned their meaning and context, at which point they immediately became colourful. I also remember initially having been very put out by the fact that the English words I learned had different colours than the corresponding German words - I was really bad in English for the first year or two largely because of this; eventually though I got used to it. I can't answer the sign language question, since I don't know any sign language; I can tell you though that common signs we use in everyday life ( thumbs up, middle finger etc etc ) don't seem to invoke any sensations for me. Having said that, from what I have heard and read, synesthesia comes in many shapes and sizes for different people, so I take it my own experience is probably pretty unique and applies to me only - another synesthetic might disagree on the sign language question.

    Do you know of anyone else in your family tree that has it as well? Have you tried asking?
    I have, but my family aren't aware of anyone else with the ability. Interestingly, my synesthesia has never really been discussed within the family, and very few people around me know that I have that ability. I find that mostly when I mention it I get blank stares from people; some don't believe me at all, others probably consider me a freak. In school, most of my teachers ( with just one noticeable exception ) pretty much dismissed it, and didn't want to hear of it at all - after all, why would a year be rectangular ? While it is completely normal for me, with some effort I can kind of see now why it doesn't make sense to others. I remember I once got an earful from one of my teachers in primary school - we were asked to arrange pictures of the various months and seasons, and while everyone arranged them in a circle ( "the circle of the seasons" I believe was the title of the exercise ), I kept putting them in a square, and not even in chronological order. At the time I did not understand why everyone else did it differently, and why the teacher kept telling me that I did it all wrong. My arrangement seemed perfectly natural to me. In the end I just copied everyone else to fit in and get the teacher off my back, even though it felt "wrong" to me. Now I laugh about these memories, but at the time it was incredibly frustrating, and this is just one example.
    Last edited by Markus Hanke; July 12th, 2014 at 01:34 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    I'm jealous. It sounds like an interesting experience.
    I don't consciously notice it most of the time. However, there is a small number of words in both English and German that carry extremely bright "neon-like" colours - when I hear or read such words it is literally like a flash light going off in my mind, which can be very distracting, and is really not at all pleasant, especially when you are sleeping and it happens in the middle of a vivid dream. It even wakes me up every once in a while, the sensation is that intense ! Thankfully those words are rare and far between for me, and I try to avoid them when I can.

    If you're interested in some theories of how it works, theres an entire chapter devoted to it in Ramachandran's book The Tell-Tale Brain.
    Thank you, I might give this a shot

    But his ingenious experiments show that it's definitely an involuntary sensory process, not some abstract, metaphorical association.
    I definitely agree.
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    There are far more than 5 physical senses. Most of the time we just do not think of them.

    You can sense when you are hungry or full for example.
    You can tell when you need to go pee or go for a crap too.
    The ability to detect heat is actually a different set of receptors than the touch receptors.
    We can sense when our blood has too much CO2 and it triggers us to breath.
    In your nose there is a set of nerves intended to sense strong chemicals which is separate from your sense of smell, there is also a small pit structure intended to tell you when members of the opposite sex are in heat.

    Depending on how you count them up you could have more than 20 different sensory systems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    Water never becomes the cup, it is just inside the cup. Air actually forms around the cup, and basically becomes the cup. Be like the wind, my friend.
    Air is around me
    Wine is in my beloved's cup
    My cup is happy

    Thank you Haiku - The thing is that all things interelate so if you become the wind, you become everything...
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    I think the OP has abandoned ship.
    Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. -Spoon Boy
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaBOB View Post
    I think the OP has abandoned ship.
    Maybe so .But the question about what is an "emotion" even if it not a sense per se strikes me as extremely interesting.

    Do emotions comes in gradations ? in oppositions? Can they be repeated? Do they leave a physical imprint?
    Can they interreact one with another? Can they be an aid to learning?

    There seems no end to what you can ask about them.I am sure there must have been a lot of research into all this which I have never heard of.
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    I think of emotions as a force field of some sort. Emotive force moves us to do certain things and think certain ways and it is like voltage potential to me. It sparks the mind so to speak. It is a source for scientific discovery, for song writing, for poetry and art, and dancing in the rain and even in the pain, and for book writing and reading, and for love and marriage. However it can also be a source for feeling bad, being mean and getting depressed or scared.

    As I say, I think it is a force, but not always a sensible force. And it can be a two edged sword.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DaBOB View Post
    I think the OP has abandoned ship.
    Maybe so .But the question about what is an "emotion" even if it not a sense per se strikes me as extremely interesting.

    Do emotions comes in gradations ? in oppositions? Can they be repeated? Do they leave a physical imprint?
    Can they interreact one with another? Can they be an aid to learning?

    There seems no end to what you can ask about them.I am sure there must have been a lot of research into all this which I have never heard of.
    Well, I guess I was pointing out not so much that the OP was gone, but that he chose not to moderate his own discussion, such that it has digressed considerably.

    There is, of course, much to be said on the subject. I would not call it research, so much as insight. I think of research as the kind of thing that leads to headlines like "Obesity Is The Result of a Lack of Exercise." Researchers get paid to "prove" what insightful people already "know." Now, however, I digress. What was the topic?
    Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. -Spoon Boy
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaBOB View Post

    Well, I guess I was pointing out not so much that the OP was gone, but that he chose not to moderate his own discussion, such that it has digressed considerably.

    There is, of course, much to be said on the subject. I would not call it research, so much as insight. I think of research as the kind of thing that leads to headlines like "Obesity Is The Result of a Lack of Exercise." Researchers get paid to "prove" what insightful people already "know." Now, however, I digress. What was the topic?
    So how do we know if the insights are good?
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DaBOB View Post
    I think the OP has abandoned ship.
    Maybe so .But the question about what is an "emotion" even if it not a sense per se strikes me as extremely interesting.

    Do emotions comes in gradations ? in oppositions? Can they be repeated? Do they leave a physical imprint?
    Can they interreact one with another? Can they be an aid to learning?

    There seems no end to what you can ask about them.I am sure there must have been a lot of research into all this which I have never heard of.
    If you're interested in emotion, a good book is "Self Comes to Mind" by Antonio Damasio, or his earlier one, "The Felling of What Happens - Body and Emotion in the making of consciousness" Damasio studys the connection between emotions and consciousness. Emotion as a "feeling" overlaps with concepts in consciousness like qualia (the redness of an apple, the softness of velvet, the sound of middle C.) But neurologically, emotion also acts kind of like a driver, or shifts in brain state that make certain behaviors more likely to happen. For example, a sarcastic comment from another person might make respond aggressively if I'm in a bad mood, or I might laugh it off if I'm happy.

    An interesting arguement that Damasio makes in his books, is that although we tend to think of emotion as "all in our heads", it's intimately tied to the body's experience of it, and it would be difficult to interpret emotion without also experiencing the physiological reactions that go along with it. He says that the physiologically reactions may even precede our awareness of an emotion - You're heart races, your face flushes, your teeth clench, and then you realize "Boy am ever I mad!"
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    Are you sure there are no electroreceptive like compositions in the human body?

    If you look at the similarities between function and composition of the ampullae and various electroreceptor which is essentially a mass of Ca2 ion channels they operate very similarly to the human nervous system and brain which is also a mass of multi ion channels and other combined operations.
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    Can you detect a large flow of electricity, yes. But this doesn't mean you have electroreceptors in your body. Does your body work with electric impulses, yes, and do your muscles react to this electricity, yes. But again, this doesn't mean you have electroreceptors. A sense would be a specially designed group of cells (smell/taste/touch), or a whole organ (eye, ear) created for the sole purpose.

    Does your body have an organ, or group of cells, dedicated solely to receiving electrical stimuli? No.

    Your body has a bone structure which is large enough to receive short radiowaves on them, in theory, do they count as radioreceptive like compositions. Yes, but this means exactly nothing.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Yes true definition of a sensory organs there is no defined organ for electroreception, but there is a very similar molecular composition that exists that potentially can respond in the same manner within the human body.

    Ion channels throughout the body work both of voltage gating stimuli and ligand gated stimuli/reactions, the individual ampullae for instance purely as comparative are essentially a large mass of ion channels with micro villi as a trap, this then triggers back into the synaptic cleft which triggers the release of neurotransmitters which then sends signals via the axons & dendrites to the brain where it is then processed.

    Is it feasible / possible theoretically speaking that potentially some human beings and even other animals can be some what more sensitive to electromagnetic fields which cause the potential difference across multiple membranes throughout the body to activate multiple ion channels that then bind to receptors that then send neurotransmitters?
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    We have a lot more than 5, depending on how you want to define them. I've come across numbers as high as 21.

    Sensing warmth (thermoception) is not the same as feeling something physically touch your skin. Feeling a puff of air stir your hairs is not the same as sensing a breeze from the cooling of the skin from evaporation. Sensing pain (nociception), like temperature and hairs being moved may be included as a form of touch sense but only because 'touch' is so imprecise. Our sense of balance (equilibrioception) doesn't seem to fit even loosely into any of the 'five senses'.

    I think our somatic awareness tends to be a rich mixture of sensory stimuli that blur together so that we tend not to separate the individual components - the functionless body hair myth for example ( a pet peeve of mine), persists because people don't usually distinguish between the sensations from hairs being disturbed and physical touch to the skin.
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    SO you think there are nerve endings in the hair?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayflow View Post
    SO you think there are nerve endings in the hair?
    At the base of the hair.
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    Mayflow, the myth that fine body hairs are functionless is a pet peeve, as I said. The nerves are in and around the follicles and are activated by displacement/vibration of the hair shafts. Hairs as an anatomical unit are usually taken to include the follicles as well as the shafts. Simply, if something moves the hairs (without necessarily touching the skin) you feel it - and they provide remarkable sensitivity, that generally exceeds that of physical contact with the skin. ie you can feel a lighter touch with the hairs than with the skin. That everyone who has ever claimed that body hairs are functionless has lived their whole life immersed in the sensations they produce - moving insects, puffs of breeze, the slide of cloth as they move - is why the functionless hairs myth irritates me. Don't theirs work?

    W.Montagna in "Evolution of Human Skin" 1985 described hairs with their nerve rich follicles as the principle component of cutaneous (skin) sensitivity. Montagna noted that all human hair follicles, regardless of size or location, are so richly supplied with nerves that the hairs can be likened to vibrissae (dedicated feeler hairs). Perhaps the very pervasiveness of these sensations allows and encourages us to tune them out - except that, when it involves busy, buzzy bugs, they tend to be so irritating that it takes conscious effort to not swat, or swipe or otherwise do something to make the sensations stop. Even if hairs vs direct skin contact are distinctly different our perceptions seem to blur the distinctions. You do learn to tell them apart with awareness. Does that make both subsets of a single sense of touch or should they be considered separate senses?
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    There is also the sense of proprioception. It is rarely considered but it is the sense that tells you where you are by the tension within the muscles and the positions of your various joints.
    I agree, emotions are not senses. In a science context it is important to use precise language.
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    This seems to me to still all fit in with the sense of touch. Whether the nerves are in the follicles or in the flesh that the molecules are attached to, it seems still the sense of touch. How about the sense of consciousness, or the sense of awareness - where are their nerve endings - or do they even have any?
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    There's one sense I'd wish they teach at school.....common sense.
    Fixin' shit that ain't broke.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver1968 View Post
    There's one sense I'd wish they teach at school.....common sense.
    That I believe dear sir (or madam as the case may presently be) is what one what teaches to ones self. I don't think anyone can teach that to another.
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