Learn English with the News: Hearing colours

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We hope you are ready for today’s news: a man who hears colours. Don’t believe us? You’ll see…

1. Read the text
2. Understand the vocabulary
3. Watch the video


Most colorblind people perceive some hues, even if defectively. But artist Neil Harbisson has achromatopsia, which means he sees no color. Though thanks to an antenna known as an eyeborg, Harbisson’s ears have taken on the role of discerning color. The eyeborg detects different parts of the color spectrum, interprets them and then transmits messages to Harbisson’s brain, which translates the visual signals into sounds that are sensed by the cochlea in his ears.

– So instead of using my ears to hear color, I use my bone and then my inner ear hears color, so it’s a different type of sound perception, it’s visual sounds that go through bone conduction.

Born in the UK and raised in Spain, Harbisson developed the device with a fellow university student. In 2004, he had the eyeborg permanently attached to his head and since then he’s had 10 different antennas.

– When I look at art I can hear the art piece, so, to me, painters have become composers.

Harbisson recently took his aural color perception a step further – he conducted a choir and string quartet in a musical light show in Spain, using colors instead of written music.


photo : vicens gimenez info@vicensgimenez.com www.vicensgimenez.com +34 609273270 BarcelonaColorblind – unable to see the difference between certain colors.

Perceive – to notice or become aware of (something).

Hues – a color or a shade of a color.

Defectively – having a problem or fault that prevents something from working correctly : having a defect or flaw.

Cochlea – the part of the inner ear that contains the endings of the nerve that carries information about sound to the brain.

Conduction – the movement of heat or electricity through something (such as metal or water).

Device – an object, machine, or piece of equipment that has been made for some special purpose.

Composers – a person who writes music.

Aural – relating to the ear or sense of hearing.

Choir – a group of singers.

Antenna – a thin sensitive organ on the head of an insect, crab, etc., that is used mainly to feel and touch things.

Discerning – able to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently.


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