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I'm a perceptual scientist by trade and training, and I think that the prevalence and significance of synesthesia are generally overblown. Most of the phenomena that people attribute to synesthesia can in fact be more simply explained via simple association learning.

This is absolutely false, humans have hundreds of different olfactory receptors; orders of magnitude more distinct receptor types than we have for any other sense.
Thank you.
 

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Today I was reading an ad in the NL and someone described the Martin Committee II sound as " Great BROWN sound" for which IT is supposedly best known!

Beside the obviously scatological association :) .... I was wondering if the describer wouldn't be referring to a Synesthetic perception and then I discovered that among guitarists there is such a thing as " brown sound" then, and it is a Van Halen definition.

Was he referring to a Synesthetic perception when he used the term?
No. It refers to a period of amplifier building when Fender was covering cabinets with a rough texture brown Tolex. Tube plate voltages were of an intermediate value between those of the prior tweed era (again referring to the cabinet covering) and blackface era (smooth black Tolex that was used starting in the '60s). The plate voltage of power pentode tubes (EL34, 6L6GC, etc.) has a direct effect on the balance of attack/compression as well as peak power before distortion.
 

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Today I was reading an ad in the NL and someone described the Martin Committee II sound as " Great BROWN sound" for which IT is supposedly best known!

Beside the obviously scatological association :) .... I was wondering if the describer wouldn't be referring to a Synesthetic perception and then I discovered that among guitarists there is such a thing as " brown sound" then, and it is a Van Halen definition.

Was he referring to a Synesthetic perception when he used the term?

There is also somethign called Brown Noise which supposedly would help my tinnitus (It doesn't).

I think they may have been referring to this:
 

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There have been some studies showing a relationship between the gustatory cortex (activated when you smell or taste something disgusting), and moral disgust. The hypothesis is that humans didn't have time to evolve separate parts of the brain to deal with newer concepts such as moral disgust. Instead the brain uses existing parts like the gustatory cortex to deal with concepts like moral disgust. And indeed in cultures all over the world terms for something immoral are often similar to: "makes me sick, smells rotten, smells fishy, stinks of corruptions etc"

Anyway, it makes sense that (no pun intended) we would use our other senses or brain regions to conceive of concepts as abstract as pitch and timbre, since there is a not a specific brain region devoted to this task. People often disagree on what color a certain saxophone tone is. Or what shape their sound is. For me the color I associate with a certain tone can change, so I am not surprised that people are swayed by the color of the saxophone or instrument.
 

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(Reacting to Quote Originally Posted by lostcircuits : "There are essentially 4 olfactory receptors that are supposed to encode smells")....

This is absolutely false, humans have hundreds of different olfactory receptors; orders of magnitude more distinct receptor types than we have for any other sense.
I guess that quote was confusedly referring to the sensations on the tongue - sweet, sour, bitter, salt, but even then, omitted Umami.
 
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