If there was ever a mysterious disease that needed a telethon, this is it. A girl in Edinburgh, Scotland, has decided to tell the world about her rare affliction which causes her to taste McDonald’s French fries when she hears the word “left.” She’s hoping to let others with the disease know that, while there’s no cure, medical experts are studying it and there are support groups to help deal with it. “Most people think what I have is a bit mad, and I suppose it is, but it’s what’s makes me different and I like that.” Annie Bird is a 19-year-old Glasgow University student. She reveals in a recent interview that her first experience with sound-induced taste was at age one when her parents played a recording by the electronic band Lemon Jelly and she suddenly had a strong chemical taste in her mouth. She thought nothing of it (she was 1!) and assumed everyone had the same response to Lemon Jelly. As she grew older, she found that the band Glass Animals made her taste chlorine and any band playing bongos induced the flavor of oranges. The word ‘judge’ brought on the flavor of stale bread while ‘music’ caused the taste of sweet toothpaste, ‘oblige’ sweet porridge and ‘left’ McDonald’s French fries. Odd noises also caused the flavors – the sound of a car on gravel gave her a fruity taste. It wasn’t until six years ago that Annie discovered this strange affliction that none of her friends suffered from had a name: lexical-gustatory synesthesia. Synethesia (or synaethesia in places that eat chips instead of fries) is a psychological condition where stimulation of one sense leads to automatic and involuntary experiences in a second sense. A common example is a where number printed in black-and-white on paper appear as different colors depending on the denomination. In Anne’s case, hearing a sound stimulate the second sense of taste.
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