The idiot brain pdf

Not to be confused with Einstein syndrome. Savant syndrome is a condition in which a person demonstrates one or more profound and prodigious capacities or abilities far in excess of what would the idiot brain pdf considered normal, yet often also has significant deficits in other areas of brain processing.


Although termed a syndrome, it is not recognized as a mental disorder nor as part of a mental disorder in medical manuals such as the ICD-10 or the DSM-5. Another form of savant syndrome is acquired savant syndrome, in which a person acquires prodigious capabilities or skills following dementia, a head injury or concussion, epilepsy, or other brain disturbances. This syndrome is more rare, with a study by Darold Treffert in 2010 showing that in a registry of 319 known savants, only 32 had acquired savant syndrome.

Savant skills are usually found in one or more of five major areas: art, memory, arithmetic, musical abilities, and spatial skills. The most common kind of savants are calendrical savants, “human calendars” who can calculate the day of the week for any given date with speed and accuracy, or recall personal memories from any given date. Advanced memory is the key “superpower” in savant abilities. No widely accepted cognitive theory explains savants’ combination of talent and deficit.

It has been suggested that individuals with autism are biased towards detail-focused processing and that this cognitive style predisposes individuals either with or without autism to savant talents. Another hypothesis is that savants hyper-systemize, thereby giving an impression of talent.

Also, the attention to detail of savants is a consequence of enhanced perception or sensory hypersensitivity in these unique individuals. It has also been confirmed that some savants operate by directly accessing low-level, less-processed information that exists in all human brains that is not normally available to conscious awareness.

Savant syndrome results from damage to the left anterior temporal lobe, an area of the brain key in processing sensory input, recognizing objects and forming visual memories. Savant syndrome has been artificially replicated using transcranial magnetic stimulation to temporarily disable this area of the brain. There are no objectively definitive statistics about how many people have savant skills.

The estimates range from “exceedingly rare” to one in ten people with autism having savant skills in varying degrees. As many as 50 cases of sudden or acquired savant syndrome have been reported.

Males with savant syndrome outnumber females by roughly 6:1, slightly higher than the sex ratio disparity for autism spectrum disorders of 4. 1887 by John Langdon Down, who is known for his description of Down syndrome. The term idiot savant was later described as a misnomer because not all reported cases fit the definition of idiot, originally used for a person with a very severe intellectual disability.

The term autistic savant was also used as a description for the disorder. Like idiot savant, the term came to be considered a misnomer because only half of those who were diagnosed with savant syndrome were autistic. Upon realization of the need for accuracy of diagnosis and dignity towards the individual, the term savant syndrome became widely accepted terminology.