Acquired Savant Syndrome: The Superpowers in All of Us?

In 1994, an orthopedic surgeon by the name of Tony Cicoria was struck by lightning while using a payphone.

A woman waiting to use the phone saved his life by giving him CPR, and several weeks later, he was overcome with the urge to listen to massive amounts of classical music.

He purchased a piano, despite never having played before, and found that the music that had been ringing in his head was of his own creation.

Within months, he had composed several complex pieces, and he later released a CD displaying his sudden piano prowess.

In Britain, Tommy McHugh collapsed in his bathroom, bleeding from his nose, ears and even his eyes. Surgeons barely managed to save his life from the two aneurysms in his brain, but when he got home, he was suddenly filled with creativity.

savant syndrome explained

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He scrawled pages upon pages of poetry, filling up notebooks, then created countless drawings out of thin air, and finally found his calling with painting.

The images in his head cycle so quickly that, by the time he’s finished with one painting, there’s another painting in his head just begging to be born.

Because he is always compelled to paint, his house is full of his creations– paintings all over the walls, the ceiling and the floor. He paints for roughly eighteen hours every day.

A patient known as X in 20th century medical journals had always been gifted– at the age of three, he was quite a talented singer– but after suffering brain damage as a result of meningitis, his IQ plummeted. Despite this, though, he spontaneously developed the mind of a piano genius.

After hearing a song one time, he could play it perfectly for years afterward. Though he never composed his own music, he was the living, breathing 20th century iTunes, with the ability to play hundreds of songs perfectly and from memory.

Orlando Serrell was ten years old when he suffered a hard hit to the head while playing baseball. He never went to the hospital, though he had a headache that stretched on for days, and when the headache vanished, he had developed calendar calculating.

If you throw out any date, he can tell you exactly what day it was. February 27th, 1990? That was a Tuesday. He simply sees the answers in front of him.

Did you just read that? Yes this is true, there is no doubt over what Orlando can do – he literally knows what day every date was since his accident.

Savants normally have one of the following abilities.

  • Mathematical Genius
  • Amazing Memory
  • Artistic Genius
  • Musical Genius
  • Spatial Skills

Are Savants the Link to Human Super Intelligence?

Are these amazing humans showing the rest of us the unlocked potential of mankind?

Why are these amazing abilities filtered in the average person, yet unleashed by a simple knock to the head?

There are only a select few people worldwide that have developed sudden superpowers after suffering from a brain injury.

The talents these acquired savants develop range from the piano abilities of a musical genius all the way to mathematical brilliance, and each time, they come out of the blue.

The sudden savant has no sign of being unusually gifted before their injury, but afterwards, they have talent worthy of fame.

Though some believe this is because the savant was already predisposed to such tendencies, others are of the opinion that savant-level brilliance may lurk within all of us.

And all it takes is an anvil to the head!

Recently, neurologists have begun to figure out the mechanics of sudden savant syndrome.

One, Bruce Miller, realized that some patients suffering neurodegenerative diseases also developed creative talents. The disease that often created savants, however, was one that attacked only the left-front parts of the brain.

acquired savant syndrome

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They believe that a specific type of brain injury (one that leaves most of the brain unaffected) forces the healthy brain to compensate for the damaged portion, which in the process unlocks all the talents that would have otherwise remained dormant.

To paraphrase: savants who become geniuses after a coconut bops them on the head may, in fact, simply be unlocking a form of genius that lurks inside all of our brains.

Because their brain has to rewire itself after suffering a severe injury, they accidentally open doors that remain locked to the rest of us.

But more ambitious scientists believe savants are to be learned from. They believe that, with the proper technology, we may be able to trick our brains into activating dormant abilities by simulating injury.

This doesn’t mean we should all go chasing a concussion, of course.

The science is still in its early stages, but a few experiments have shown that healthy people can temporarily develop creative abilities by applying electromagnetic pulses to certain areas of the brain.

As we continue to study this amazing syndrome of acquired brilliance more will be learned about the hidden wonders of human capacity.

These are the unanswered questions about the amazing savants of our world.

Do you think these powers lurk in all of us?

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