CGSC 2001 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Savant Syndrome, Derek Paravicini, Daniel Tammet

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COGSCI March 26, 2015
Savant Syndrome
Daniel Tammet
The Brain Man
Math calculations, memorized pi
Kim Peek
Has read (and remembers) 12,000 books
Reads two pages at once – his left eye reads the left page, right eye reads the right page
How is this possible?
oLanguage is largely processed in areas of the temporal lobe on the left side of the head
oWhen you read with your left eye, information first ends up in the right hemisphere and
must be transferred to the left hemisphere via the corpus callosum to be processed
oThis transfer from one side of the brain to the other is usually a disadvantage
oKim’s brain is missing a corpus callosum
oThus, possibly his brain developed the ability to process language in both hemispheres
oThis gives him a major advantage in terms of speed reading and information retention
What is Savant Syndrome?
A rare condition that is characterized by two elements:
oDevelopmental disabilities, such as autism or other CN disorders
oExceptional abilities that stand in jarring juxtaposition to overall limitations
The condition can be present from birth and evident in early childhood (congenital) or develop
later in life after injury or disease (acquired)
IQ and Savants
IQ levels in savants can range from subnormal to exceptional
Most savants have measured IQ’s between 50 and 70
oReasons?
IQ tests measure only one facet of “intelligence” something termed “IQ”
Savants tend to do poorly on that particular measure of “intelligence” (related
to verbal measures)
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