It wasn’t until about two years ago that I noticed tasting some things that touched my skin. It really spooked me, particularly when the taste would linger and linger, until I found out it’s a relatively common enough experience and logical: what is the tongue after all but a part of skin? Chemicals that get absorbed into the capillaries of the skin can quickly slide sideways until it reaches the tongue where the tastebuds and olfactory system picks it up. Still unnerving when it happens but at least I can make some sense of it – another of the many things I wish they taught in schools I went to. But skin primarily uses various pressure sensors, temperature difference senses – I forget what they all are – and they form various images for us. One example is the sensation of “wet” is a combination of a certain drop in temperature on the skin surface and a certain amount of pressure, which is why things that are dry can ‘feel wet” – or a sensation I get sometimes, objects “feeling like glass”, which I assume is a certain combination forming a mental tactile image for me and leads to the deduction: “glass”. usually. But what of music? Sound is air pressure mechanically and electrically and chemically converted in a particular way to electrical/chemical impulses that are broken up in a serial (temporal event boundaries / start – stop) and parallel (frequency range, simultaneous) way and also in multiple serial/parallel layers (distinguishing musical notes playing and what instruments they are), likely in a “location” way…. While all of the senses except for olfactory – the most primitive – pass through a “triage”/sorting system/ gateway / cosmopolitan area early on – the thalamus (and the olfactory joins them a moment later in the “mediodorsal thalamic nucleus” (MDT) I just learned – do they establish a common internal communication protocol? A common language? Or, more pragmatically, can (or have) we create an artificial lingua franca for sensation that is robust enough to handle synesthetic (multi-modal) sensations and their resulting associative imagery?

It wasn’t until about two years ago that I noticed tasting some things that touched my skin. It really spooked me, particularly when the taste would linger and linger, until I found out it’s a relatively common enough experience and logical: what is the tongue after all but a part of skin? Chemicals that get absorbed into the capillaries of the skin can quickly slide sideways until it reaches the tongue where the tastebuds and olfactory system picks it up. Still unnerving when it happens but at least I can make some sense of it – another of the many things I wish they taught in schools I went to. But skin primarily uses various pressure sensors, temperature difference senses – I forget what they all are – and they form various images for us. One example is the sensation of “wet” is a combination of a certain drop in temperature on the skin surface and a certain amount of pressure, which is why things that are dry can ‘feel wet” – or a sensation I get sometimes, objects “feeling like glass”, which I assume is a certain combination forming a mental tactile image for me and leads to the deduction: “glass”. usually. But what of music? Sound is air pressure mechanically and electrically and chemically converted in a particular way to electrical/chemical impulses that are broken up in a serial (temporal event boundaries / start – stop) and parallel (frequency range, simultaneous) way and also in multiple serial/parallel layers (distinguishing musical notes playing and what instruments they are), likely in a “location” way…. While all of the senses except for olfactory – the most primitive – pass through a “triage”/sorting system/ gateway / cosmopolitan area early on – the thalamus (and the olfactory joins them a moment later in the “mediodorsal thalamic nucleus” (MDT) I just learned – do they establish a common internal communication protocol? A common language? Or, more pragmatically, can (or have) we create an artificial lingua franca for sensation that is robust enough to handle synesthetic (multi-modal) sensations and their resulting associative imagery?

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