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Brain damage, good and bad damage

by MathJakob
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MathJakob
#1
Oct1-13, 04:03 AM
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There have been cases where normal people without any sort of brain malfunction have lived their lives totally fine without any problem for 20+ years and then they have an accident involving head injury, wake up from either a coma or just after a very good night sleep lol and they basically become a savant... overnight.

One case of a kid who got hit in the head by a baseball, woke up and found that he could recall everyday of his life, the weather on that day, the dates and what days occured ect. I know there is a technique for this so not so sure about this one but also he had a photographic memory, literally like a camera. He flew over cities and drew them from memory almost perfectly.

Another man had a head injury and when he came out of his coma he managed to be able to work out extremely impossible problems to 10's of digits and it got to the point where the computer stopped producing decimals. Stuff like ##\sqrt[7]{8484649}## and I just don't understand...

Is the brain not optimal when we are born? I don't understand how you can damage the brain, and make it work better lol. Maybe someone should hit me on the head with a bat haha
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Drakkith
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Oct1-13, 04:31 AM
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Got any references for these accidents? They sound unlikely.
MathJakob
#3
Oct1-13, 04:45 AM
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...s-aged-40.html This guy become a musical savant

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/the-...705-2pfiz.html This guy now has photographic memory

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-cultu...uld-be-savants This guy woke up one morning, out of the blue being brilliant at math... Although I am skeptical at this one, in one interview he says he woke up one morning realising he was good at math, in another interview he said he wasn't good at math in school but became good after attending college.

Have a read of those. Tell me what you think

There are youtube videos too of them doing tests and stuff.

Drakkith
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Oct1-13, 05:14 AM
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Brain damage, good and bad damage

I'm skeptical, but the brain is a funny thing, and nearly anything is possible.
Ryan_m_b
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Oct1-13, 05:15 AM
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None of those are suitable references. News agencies constantly make stories out of pretty much nothing and don't always bother to investigate a story properly. The third example is classic: reported as becoming a maths savant but late revealed to have studied maths at university level.
Enigman
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Oct1-13, 06:23 AM
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Quote Quote by MathJakob View Post
One case of a kid who got hit in the head by a baseball, woke up and found that he could recall everyday of his life, the weather on that day, the dates and what days occured ect. I know there is a technique for this so not so sure about this one but also he had a photographic memory, literally like a camera. He flew over cities and drew them from memory almost perfectly.
Eidetic memory a.ka. photographic memory has never been scientifically proven to exist* as far as I know. There are however memory improvement techniques (mnemonics) like the memory palace method, image association and chunking. These method give only a cognitive boost and not eidetic memory- which is generally defined as extremely accurate memory without use of mnemonics

*Except in a dubious case where the examiner was the husband of the person making the claim.
Evo
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Oct1-13, 09:23 AM
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Quote Quote by MathJakob View Post
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...s-aged-40.html This guy become a musical savant

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/the-...705-2pfiz.html This guy now has photographic memory

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-cultu...uld-be-savants This guy woke up one morning, out of the blue being brilliant at math... Although I am skeptical at this one, in one interview he says he woke up one morning realising he was good at math, in another interview he said he wasn't good at math in school but became good after attending college.

Have a read of those. Tell me what you think

There are youtube videos too of them doing tests and stuff.
Please furnish the medical research on these people, stories aren't valid sources and can often be fraud, mistakes and exaggeration.
D H
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Oct1-13, 10:20 AM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
Please furnish the medical research on these people, stories aren't valid sources and can often be fraud, mistakes and exaggeration.
Just a few of several articles I found that address acquired savant syndrome:

Takahata K, Kato M., Neural mechanism underlying autistic savant and acquired savant syndrome, Brain Nerve. 2008 Jul;60(7):861-9.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18646626

Darold A. Treffert, The savant syndrome: an extraordinary condition. A synopsis: past, present, future, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 27 May 2009 364:1522 1351-1357.
http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.o...1522/1351.full

Allan Snyder, Explaining and inducing savant skills: privileged access to lower level, less-processed information, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 27 May 2009 vol. 364:1522 1399-1405.
http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.o...1522/1399.long

Hughes JR., The savant syndrome and its possible relationship to epilepsy, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;724:332-43.
http://link.springer.com/chapter/10....4614-0653-2_25
Evo
#9
Oct1-13, 10:33 AM
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Quote Quote by D H View Post
Just a few of several articles I found that address acquired savant syndrome:

Takahata K, Kato M., Neural mechanism underlying autistic savant and acquired savant syndrome, Brain Nerve. 2008 Jul;60(7):861-9.

Darold A. Treffert, The savant syndrome: an extraordinary condition. A synopsis: past, present, future, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 27 May 2009 364:1522 1351-1357.

Allan Snyder, Explaining and inducing savant skills: privileged access to lower level, less-processed information, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 27 May 2009 vol. 364:1522 1399-1405.

Hughes JR., The savant syndrome and its possible relationship to epilepsy, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;724:332-43.
Please furnish the links, thanks!

For example your first title links to this paper..

and says
In recent neuropsychological studies, Miller (1998) reported clinical cases of "acquired savant," i.e., patients who improved or newly acquired an artistic savant-like skill in the early stage of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Although the relationship between an autistic savant and acquired savant remains to be elucidated, the advent of neuroimaging study of ASD and the clarification of FTD patients with savant-like skills may clarify the shared neural mechanisms of both types of talent.
This does not mention an accident. I have no idea what it is you are reading as I only have access to the abstract.

Abstract

It is well known that the cases with savant syndrome, demonstrate outstanding mental capability despite coexisting severe mental disabilities. In many cases, savant skills are characterized by its domain-specificity, enhanced memory capability, and excessive focus on low-level perceptual processing. In addition, impaired integrative cognitive processing such as social cognition or executive function, restricted interest, and compulsive repetition of the same act are observed in savant individuals. All these are significantly relevant to the behavioral characteristics observed in individuals with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). A neurocognitive model of savant syndrome should explain these cognitive features and the juxtaposition of outstanding talents with cognitive disabilities. In recent neuropsychological studies, Miller (1998) reported clinical cases of "acquired savant," i.e., patients who improved or newly acquired an artistic savant-like skill in the early stage of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Although the relationship between an autistic savant and acquired savant remains to be elucidated, the advent of neuroimaging study of ASD and the clarification of FTD patients with savant-like skills may clarify the shared neural mechanisms of both types of talent. In this review, we classified current cognitive models of savant syndrome into the following 3 categories. (1) A hypermnesic model that suggests that savant skills develop from existing or dormant cognitive functions such as memory. However, recent findings obtained through neuropsychological examinations imply that savant individuals solve problems using a strategy that is fairly different from a non-autistic one. (2) A paradoxical functional facilitation model (Kapur, 1996) that offers possible explanations about how pathological states in the brain lead to development of prodigious skills. This model emphasizes the role of reciprocal inhibitory interaction among adjacent or distant cortical regions, especially that of the prefrontal cortex and the posterior regions of the brain. (3) Autistic models, including those based on weak central coherence theory (Frith, 1989), that focus on how savant skills emerge from an autistic brain. Based on recent neuroimaging studies of ASD, Just et al. (2004) suggested the underconnectivity theory, which emphasizes the disruption of long-range connectivity and the relative intact or even more enhanced local connectivity in the autistic brain. All the models listed above have certain advantages and shortcomings. At the end of this review, we propose another integrative model of savant syndrome. In this model, we predict an altered balance of local/global connectivity patterns that contribute to an altered functional segregation/integration ratio. In particular, we emphasize the crucial role played by the disruption of global connectivity in a parallel distributed cortical network, which might result in impairment in integrated cognitive processing, such as impairment in executive function and social cognition. On the other hand, the reduced inter-regional collaboration could lead to a disinhibitory enhancement of neural activity and connectivity in local cortical regions. In addition, enhanced connectivity in the local brain regions is partly due to the abnormal organization of the cortical network as a result of developmental and pathological states. This enhanced local connectivity results in the specialization and facilitation of low-level cognitive processing. The disruption of connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and other regions is considered to be a particularly important factor because the prefrontal region shows the most influential inhibitory control on other cortical areas. We propose that these neural mechanisms as the underlying causes for the emergence of savant ability in ASD and FTD patients.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18646626

While brain injury can result in the acquisition of a new skill, apparently it's almost unheard of


Acquired Savant Syndrome.

According to Dr. Andrew Reeves of the Mayo Clinic, Amato is one of the few people in the world who has Acquired Savant Syndrome.

"The head injury changed his brain chemistry," said Reeves, adding that Amato's musical genius -- that combines music, visual and motor abilities -- is not only rare but also "very unique." According to a Science Channel documentary, Amato might be the only man in the world to have acquired such an ability.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...n_1577768.html

I couldn't find a paper about him.
D H
#10
Oct1-13, 10:52 AM
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Read the second and third articles. They are (for now) fully accessible from the publisher.
Evo
#11
Oct1-13, 11:08 AM
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Quote Quote by D H View Post
Read the second and third articles. They are (for now) fully accessible from the publisher.
DH, in this forum, we provide links (thank you!) and a quote of the pertinent information for the reader. Do they specifically address brain injury as the cause?

Edit: Your second link only refers to another paper. The actual paper is here.

http://www.neurology.org/content/64/...e2=tf_ipsecsha
Enigman
#12
Oct1-13, 03:00 PM
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Quote Quote by MathJakob View Post
Is the brain not optimal when we are born? I don't understand how you can damage the brain, and make it work better lol.
I haven't got any papers but I got a relevant link from the wisconsin medical society.
https://www.wisconsinmedicalsociety....quired-savant/
Quote Quote by article
These researchers hypothesized that selective degeneration of the anterior temporal orbitofrontal cortex decreased inhibition of visual systems involved with perception, thereby enhancing artistic interest and abilities. Such artistic interest and ability was relatively dormant until the FTD disease “released” those hidden abilities. Some would characterize that phenomenon as a release “from the tyranny of the left hemisphere”.
The article in this case is talking about the paper Emergence of artistic talent in frontotemporal dementia*edit which I see evo already has linked...
Anyway not much about the mechanism behind savant syndrome is known with certainty...
Quote Quote by MathJakob View Post
Maybe someone should hit me on the head with a bat haha
Not an advisable thing to do, there are thousands of cases of brain damage and less than fifty documented acquired savants.
MathJakob
#13
Oct1-13, 03:02 PM
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Quote Quote by Enigman View Post
Not an advisable thing to do, there are thousands of cases of brain damage and less than fifty documented acquired savants.
T'was a joke :P
D H
#14
Oct1-13, 03:09 PM
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Quote Quote by Enigman View Post
Not an advisable thing to do, there are thousands of cases of brain damage and less than fifty documented acquired savants.
You're off by several orders of magnitude. "Every year, at least 1.7 million TBIs occur either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries." (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/statistics.html). Those fifty or so cases of acquired savant syndrome are over the course of many, many years.

The odds of odds of becoming a mathematical genius by getting a very hard smack in the head with a brick are on par with winning the lottery (the big one, not the little payoffs that keep people playing the lottery week in / week out).
Enigman
#15
Oct1-13, 03:19 PM
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Another research that the article cites:
http://www.neurology.org/content/64/2/397
The emergence of artistic skills in the context of brain damage has been documented in patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).1 In this report, we describe an artist whose skills emerged following a sudden-onset brain injury without any associated dementia or impaired verbal abilities. This may represent a window into an alternative mechanism of artistic creativity to that illustrated by patients with FTD.
zoobyshoe
#16
Oct3-13, 02:37 PM
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Quote Quote by MathJakob View Post
Is the brain not optimal when we are born? I don't understand how you can damage the brain, and make it work better lol.
I hope you got the answer from the abstracts posted by Evo. Is the savant brain authentically working optimally, or in any "better"?


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