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The science of synesthesia and super sensors

Joy Milne, a Scottish nurse, met her husband Les in high school.Nearly 15 years after they met, Joy smelled something different about Les. The scent wouldn’t go away, and a decade later, Les was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It turned out, Joy’s nose was detecting the disease, long before doctors could.

Joy’s hyperosmia, or super-smelling ability, helped develop a non-invasive swab test for Parkinson’s. She’s one of many stories recounted in the new book, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: The Astonishing New Science of the Senses.” Author Maureen Seaberg is a super sensor too. She has synesthesia and is a tetrachromat, meaning her eyes distinguish more colors than average.

Why do some of us have superior senses? And how can we all harness that power?

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Avery Jessa Chapnick
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