TEDxDelft 2012 | A world full of sensations

Wendy Lampen explains us in a very vivid language how she experiences the world. All sensations impact her brain and collide such that she has linked memories. She gives us an insight on what the world feels like when you have Asperger’s syndrome.

Her brain might function in a different way, but does that simply mean she is abnormal? Or could her different braintype actually add value to our world as well, by shining a light on the world from an angle so unexpected to us? And why is there a mindmap on the screen while she is talking?


The first step to understand how different braintypes can enrich our world, is to listen to an “abnormal” person’s view on reality. Today, Wendy invited us from the TEDxDelft stage to take a trip into her reality. She explains how she senses and makes sense of the world.

Following a good TEDxDelft tradition, she starts with a story from when she was a young child. She describes a trip to the beach where her family was playing cards. In her memory, the stale smell of the cards is predominant, and the texture of the sand. At another point in her childhood, she was rescued by her uncle from drowning. The last drops of water dripping from her face felt like long pink strands of gooey and sticky stuff. But when she explained this experience to her family, they laughed at her. And she noticed that more often people would laugh at her perception of the world – so she decided to keep quiet. After telling us about these childhood memories, her brain makes her relive these experiences – her muscles even tighten and her voice changes.

To give us an insight in how her brain works, Wendy uses the analogy of a sponge. Just like a sponge, her brain absorbs everything she senses, sees, smells, feels, hears – an overwhelming world by times. But when this “sponge” is full, she can’t absorb anything – nothing at all, not even a question someone might ask her. And then some time later, when the “sponge” has dried out a bit again, suddenly the echo of the question might ring in her mind again.
Another aspect of her reality is synesthesia: for her, the number four associates with a typical type of yellow that also makes her feel sick. In general, she sees music and tastes smells and sounds.
Then, she visually explains us how she scans the world: vertically and horizontally, but with blind spots such that instead of a globe she ends up with a doughnut.

You might by now think that her world is just that: overwhelming, too much, weird even? But then she smiles, and shows us how much playtime her brain also gives her: she translates the world into mathematical schemes, she sometimes redraws the images she has in her brain, she can focus for 8 hours on a ball of yarn to create a visual object and she has fun mindmapping her entire world as she lives the fragments of it.

Just like recent research in neuroscience has shown that psilocybin actually mutes the inherent “reducing valves” in the average human’s brain, Wendy showed us how there is actually much more going on than you can imagine.