From: Harvey Newstrom (mail@HarveyNewstrom.com)
Date: Sun Jun 22 2003 - 08:33:24 MDT
> True savant abilities seem to involve
> differences in brain wiring. For example I know of a person whose 'mental
> super power' has been mapped by FMRI, it turns out that this ability uses
> a much larger area of his brain than it would in normal people. In turn
> he has a severe deficit in the ability that would have resided in the area
> taken over by the special ability.
OK, this is different from what I had heard. My psychological training is a
bit out of date. From what I learned, savants were not thought to be using
more of their brain. They lacked high-level analysis and interpretation
skills and could only perform perfect rote memorization.
For example, I was under the impression that musical savants can't compose
music. They can memorize the piano keyboard instantly, remember and
recognize notes perfectly, and reproduce any piece of music exactly by
playing it. But they can't vary the composition or come up with new ones.
Likewise, I thought artistic savants could reproduce the masters exactly,
paint/draw anything they see with almost photorealistic precision, but
couldn't paint something new on their own.
Another problem that savants have is that they don't seem to be able to
disregard information. They memorize and remember everything. They repeat
everything literally and follow instructions exactly. But they can't break
down these linguistic sentences to their intended meanings. They can quote
anything exactly, but don't really understand it.
I may be biased toward my understanding over yours, but it seems more likely
that a zap through a particular area of the brain is more likely to disrupt
specific processes rather than trigger higher-level cooperation among brain
regions. In any case, this would be a wonderful ability to control. If I
could bypass my higher-level thought processes and just memorize data
exactly or calculate numbers directly, it would be great.
-- Harvey Newstrom, CISM, CISSP, IAM, IBMCP, GSEC Certified InfoSec Manager, Certified IS Security Pro, NSA-certified InfoSec Assessor, IBM-certified Security Consultant, SANS-cert GSEC <HarveyNewstrom.com> <Newstaff.com>
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