It can even be something as trivial as always having conceptualized the passing of years as a visual timeline, and then finding out that not everyone does so.

I visualise numbers in a strange way. All people with whom I have talked about this (there weren't many) said to visualise numbers on a line or a circle. My image, on the other hand, has many sharp turns. I have put it here. The round turns in the picture aren't visualised as such; instead when thinking about numbers lying there, the whole picture turns around to maintain orientation while keeping the curved sections straight.

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I find this amazing. I have no visualization for numbers at all. I do have weak color associations, though:

The associations are stronger for 1-6 than 7-9, and usually only noticeable when appearing as groups of consecutive digits, eg 34. I don't actually perceive the numbers as being those colors when I see them on a page, but they have the colors in my mental imagery.

1ESRogs8yIt's interesting that you put history on there. I also have a history timeline that's separate from my generic number line, but I don't think I'd seen that mentioned before in what I'd read about spatial-sequence synesthesia (see my reply to jsalvatier). At some point I realized I had a line like this for just about any sequence of things I've ever thought of. Besides the ones you've mentioned: days of the week, months of the year, grades in school, etc. My sequence lines are not all totally unique though. For example, on the history timeline the years within a century just follow the pattern of the numbers from 1 to 100, and for me minutes/seconds and temperatures fall on the normal number line.
1jsalvatier8yOne of the Seattle LessWrong meetup attenders described his mild synesthesia in the same way you've described and claimed he read a book about people having similar number lines (with cultural differences).

How is your mind different from everyone else's?

by Kaj_Sotala 1 min read5th Dec 2011267 comments


Partially to help reduce the typical mind fallacy and partially because I'm curious, I'm thinking about writing either an essay or a book with plenty of examples about ways by which human minds differ. From commonly known and ordinary, like differences in sexual orientation, to the rare and seemingly impossible, like motion blindness.

To do this, I need to start collecting examples. In what ways does your mind differ from what you think is the norm for most people?

I'm particularly interested in differences - small or large - that you didn't realize for a long time, automatically assuming that everyone was like you in that regard. It can even be something as trivial as always having conceptualized the passing of years as a visual timeline, and then finding out that not everyone does so. I'm also interested in links to blog posts where people talk about their own mental peculiarities, even if you didn't write them yourself. Also books and academic articles that you might think could be relevant.

Some of the content that I'm thinking about including are cultural differences in various things as recounted in the WEIRD article, differences in sexual and romantic orientation (such as mono/poly), differences in the ability to recover from setbacks, extroversion vs. introversion in terms of gaining/losing energy from social activity, differences in visualization ability, various cognitive differences ranging from autism to synesthesia to an inability to hear music in particular, differences in moral intuitions, differences in the way people think (visual vs. verbal vs. conceptual vs. something that I'm not aware of yet), differences in thinking styles (social/rational, reflectivity vs. impulsiveness) and various odd brain damage cases.

If you find this project interesting, consider spreading the link to this post or resharing my Google Plus update about it. Also, if you don't want to reply in public, feel free to send me a private message.