Medical Brain damage, good and bad damage

1. Oct 1, 2013

MathJakob

Brain damage, good and bad "damage"

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

2. Oct 1, 2013

Staff: Mentor

Got any references for these accidents? They sound unlikely.

3. Oct 1, 2013

MathJakob

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...urns-Colorado-man-musical-genius-aged-40.html This guy become a musical savant

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/the-amazing-world-of-savants-20130705-2pfiz.html This guy now has photographic memory

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-cult...us-to-hold-dubai-seminar-for-would-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.

4. Oct 1, 2013

Staff: Mentor

I'm skeptical, but the brain is a funny thing, and nearly anything is possible.

5. Oct 1, 2013

Staff: Mentor

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.

6. Oct 1, 2013

Enigman

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.

7. Oct 1, 2013

Staff: Mentor

Please furnish the medical research on these people, stories aren't valid sources and can often be fraud, mistakes and exaggeration.

8. Oct 1, 2013

Staff: Mentor

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.org/content/364/1522/1351.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.org/content/364/1522/1399.long

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

Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
9. Oct 1, 2013

Staff: Mentor

and says
This does not mention an accident. I have no idea what it is you are reading as I only have access to the abstract.

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

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/07/derek-amato_n_1577768.html

I couldn't find a paper about him.

Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
10. Oct 1, 2013

Staff: Mentor

Read the second and third articles. They are (for now) fully accessible from the publisher.

11. Oct 1, 2013

Staff: Mentor

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...4e05e899cfbeee23d580d12e&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
12. Oct 1, 2013

Enigman

I haven't got any papers but I got a relevant link from the wisconsin medical society.
https://www.wisconsinmedicalsociety...drome/resources/articles/the-acquired-savant/
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...
Not an advisable thing to do, there are thousands of cases of brain damage and less than fifty documented acquired savants.

Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
13. Oct 1, 2013

MathJakob

T'was a joke :P

14. Oct 1, 2013

Staff: Mentor

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).

15. Oct 1, 2013

Enigman

Another research that the article cites:
http://www.neurology.org/content/64/2/397

16. Oct 3, 2013

zoobyshoe

I hope you got the answer from the abstracts posted by Evo. Is the savant brain authentically working optimally, or in any "better"?