An Interview With Synesthesia Expert Maureen Seaberg

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Maureen Seaberg is a Synesthesia Expert who writes the Tasting the Universe Blog at Psychology Today; here is a link to her blog:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sensorium

 

 

Q: What is Synesthesia?

 

A: Synesthesia is when one sensory stimulus results in a normal sensory response “plus one”. For example, if I look at the word Wednesday, I know it is the fourth day of the week, but I also see the color indigo.

 

Q: What research has been done about it?

 

A: Since the mid-1970s, synesthesia research has grown enormously. It is now a very popular topic of inquiry.

 

 

Q: What causes it?

A: It is normally genetic and inherited, but sometimes it can result from injury or disease.

Q: What made you interested in writing about it?

 

A: As it was a book (THE MAN WHO TASTED SHAPES by Dr. Richard Cytowic) that helped me know about synesthesia for the first time, I hoped to pay it forward and help raise more awareness of this interesting trait. Now I’ve written two books on the subject and blog on it for Psychology Today.

 

 

Q: How can it help an artist?

 

A: Synesthesia is directly tied to creativity, of utmost importance to an artist. I believe it also gives us an affinity and fluency in color, and depending on the medium, that could be very useful.

 

 

 Q: How can it hinder an artist?

 

A: I don’t believe it can hinder an artist; on the contrary it is a very helpful skill.

 

 Q: You were a stringer for the New York TImes; what kind of stories did you write about?

 

A: I mostly covered breaking news, usually crime, for the Metro desk.

Q: What was your most memorable New York story?

 

 

A: There have been so many. They’re like children — you love them equally, but in different ways. I suppose the next thing I’m working on is always central to me, so I would say at the moment it’s the story of my ancestor, Ellen Walsh/Ida Mayfield Wood, who was the antebellum Holly Golightly and a fascinating eccentric. She made up a new identity for herself (imagine this in the mid-19th century for a woman…), lived a fabulous life at the center of society in New York City from just prior to the Civil War through The Great Depression and is the topic of my next book. The working title is THE RUSE and it’s like Edith Wharton and Truman Capote had a baby.

 

I also hope to write a book about tetrachromacy which is a favorite new topic for me. I was just diagnosed with the DNA for an extra cone for color in my eyes. I see 100 million colors as opposed to the “normal” 1 million. Tetrachromats are always women.

 

 

Q:  What is the biggest difference between blogging and journalism?

 

A: I think the rules are the same, particularly regarding ethics. Blogging is more about brevity and immediacy than traditional print journalism, though.

 

 

Q: What kind of educational background do you have?

 

A: I have a bachelor of arts in journalism from Penn State University and a minor in Spanish. I also received a certificate in superior-level language studies from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, where I studied abroad. I also won a scholarship to the inaugural Norman Mailer Writers Colony in 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

 

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