Extreme Echolocators

Lidell Simpson – Photonic Hearing

Last Updated on September 10, 2020 by Darshan Modi

Lidell Simpson
Lidell Simpson


Lidell Simpson has synesthesia, the ability to recognize people using sound despite being deaf from birth.


Lidell Simpson was born on 28th August 1958 in Mississippi.

Early Life

Many doctors mistook his inner hearing for mental illness but fortunately for him, his mother did not send him to a mental institution. She raised him just like any other normal child. It is unclear when this condition began to manifest but he was able to recognize his ability to hear sounds at around the age of 5 and later on he began to learn more about his condition as grew up.
He was able to recognize a picture of his grandmother who had passed on when was only 2 years old.
When he was 13, with the help of a researcher in that field, he discovered that his condition was acquired.
Simpson studied a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science in the University of Mississippi where he was an Associated Student Body Senator and the Resident Hall Advisor under the Department of Housing. He also joined clubs and societies like the North Mississippi Grotto Caving Club.
He worked for Saks Incorporated as a senior production control and operations analyst where his synesthesia worked to his advantage; the way he thinks in non-verbal and non-visual manners by observing moving things and coding the solutions, something that wowed his co-workers.
He is an affiliate researcher at Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research and Synesthesia Research.
Lidell Simpson has done oil water color, charcoal pastel and has composed some synesthesia music. He has also excelled in sports fencing and Scuba diving.

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About Lidell Simpson

To Lidell Simpson, everything he sees makes sound, even an approaching light; he can hear its motion and the pitch would increase as it approaches. He says it gets quite noisy sometimes when he has to hear everything he sees that moves. He can lip read while watching TV and hear the voices even when the sound is muted.
He is a polyglot. Lidell Simpson speaks English, German, Russian and Arabic. He was interested in learning Arabic because the song and prayers in Arabic sounded so uplifting. He says that one needs not know the words, rather just flow with the sounds.
Lidell Simpson has skills in public speaking, scientific writing, data analysis, university lecturing and experimental design.
Lidell is leading an extraordinary life but this does not stop him from doing what other people do. He is doing everything he can to create awareness and help others understand what his world is like. He has spoken at various conferences and has used this platform to get as many people educated on this condition which has been a success.
He is an advocate for close captioning for the hearing impaired and an active member of the American Synesthesia Association as well as the UK Synesthesia Association.

Genetic Or Learned

Lidell Simpson was born deaf and acquired this unique ability while growing up.

Names Known By



Featured In

Interview: Psychology Today.

Books Published

Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the brain of Synesthesia.
The superhuman mind: Free the Genius in Your Brain.