Extraordinary People

The hidden genius inside us: Condition gifts people incredible abilities

Do you have 'Rain Man' lurking within?

The human brain works in mysterious ways! Despite ongoing research by top neuroscientists, many questions remain unanswered, and likely always will.

It is said we will never fully understand how a person thinks, how our memories shape who we become, or how the nerve cells work together to produce voluntary movement.

This is why it is especially magical when some of us are capable of extraordinary things, like Lu Chao of China, who holds the Guinness World Record for reciting 67,890 digits of pi.

Despite his incredible feat, no one has come close to understanding why, what or how it happens.

[Credit: Jeshoots]

Similarly, there are people who can answer what day an event happened if you ask, ‘What day of the week was March 22, 1932?’ and they say ‘Tuesday’ instantaneously.

We say ‘magical’, others say ‘savant’.

Savant syndrome is a rare condition in which people with various developmental disorders, including autism, have an amazing ability that appears somewhat superhuman.

[Credit: United Artists]

If the movie Rain Man just so happens to spring to mind, it’s because Dustin Hoffman’s powerful portrayal of Raymond Babbitt was inspired by a real-life tale of savant syndrome.

Taking inspo from Kim Peek, this US native was known as a ‘megasavant’ due to his astounding mind in which he memorised over 12,000 books, including the Bible.

Incredibly, Kim could actually read two pages at once, with his left eye reading the left page and his right eye reading the right page, before he memorised both sides in eight seconds.

[Credit: Wikipedia]

While Kim, who died in 2009 aged 58, left scientists scratching their heads, they did discover he was missing the bundle of nerves that usually connects the brain’s two hemispheres.

It is believed that 10% of people with autism have some level of savant abilities, although people with brain injuries can also demonstrate bizarre talents in later life.

This is why many people do not display such skills at childhood and only after an accident or stroke, which is what happened to a teenager in Croatia.

The unnamed girl awoke from a coma and had lost her ability to speak her native language and could only communicate in German.

Other people with savant syndrome include Leslie Lemke, who could play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on the piano after hearing it on TV that day, and Ellen Boudreaux, who instinctively knows the exact hour, minute, and second of a day at all times without looking at a clock.

It is as beautiful as it is extraordinary.

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