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Savant syndrome and learning differences

Savant syndrome and learning differences

A syndrome is nothing more than the set of symptoms caused by a disease. In the case of savant syndrome, researcher Darold Treffert explains that it is a disease that is characterized by some mental disabilities, such as autismor psychomotor deficiencies, but on the contrary, they have some specific skills quite interesting, standing out in some intellectual areas.

Main characteristics of Savant Syndrome

Of course not all wise or intelligent people have this problem. But those who have this syndrome are characterized by some common features.

The skills of those who suffer from this syndrome can be divided into four different sections:

  • Musical performers, especially at the piano, skilled sculptors and painters. That is why art is one of its fields to highlight.
  • They can memorize calendars and remember dates important.
  • They are portentous mathematicians, can make impressive accounts in your head, even divisions with 100 decimals.
  • They can measure almost exact distances without meters, memorize directions and maps, and handle the scales of the models perfectly.

Daniel Tammet, one of the most famous savant today, among many other things, is able to recite 22,514 digits of the Pi number of memory. He thinks that his "amazing" abilities are not due to any brain or genetic chance, but to the basis of an associative form between thought and imagination.

According to him, the differences between a savant and a non-savant mind have been exaggerated, to the detriment of how most of us value our own abilities and develop our talents.

As Tammet explains, people could consider their kind of skills as extraordinary if they were really that: extraordinary, out of reach or possibilities that people not considered savant, but believe it is a wrong presumption.

He says that "As one of the few known autistic scholars in the world, I have received all kinds of strange requests: from predicting the winning numbers of the lottery the following week, to requests for advice on the construction of a perpetual motion machine. It is not surprising then that conditions such as autism and savant syndrome remain poorly understood by most people, including many experts. ”

Not supernaturally gifted

But it is not only savant minds that are considered in some way extraordinarily gifted and, therefore, "different" from those of most people: for example, the success of prominent people in numerous fields such as Mozart, Einstein, Gari Kaspárov and many others, has been attributed to their minds possessing a supernatural and inexplicable gift.

Tammet thinks that this view is not only wrong but also harmful, because it separates the achievements of talented individuals from their own humanity; an injustice both for them and for everyone else.

"Every brain is incredible in itself. Researchers have found this out after many years of studying the minds of highly gifted people, as well as those of housewives, taxi drivers, and many others from all walks of life. ”, Says Daniel.

As a result of all these studies, today, we have a much richer and more sophisticated understanding of human capacity and potential than ever. Anyone with the passion and dedication necessary to master a field can succeed in it..

Genius, in all its forms, is not due to any mere whim of the brain; It is the result of much more chaotic, dynamic and essentially human qualities, such as perseverance, imagination, intuition, and even love.

Such an understanding of the human mind enriches and does not detract from the popular appreciation of the achievements of highly successful individuals.

There is evidence that the savant suffered damage to the central nervous system in the perinatal or postnatal period, so that from a variety of genetic processes, injuries or diseases, they have replaced the capacity of the damaged brain (usually the right) in a compensatory way in almost unimaginable ways with other areas of the brain (the left).

At the same time, due to these same damaging factors, these savant have become more dependent on the primitive cortico-striatal (procedural or habit) memory system, rather than higher levels of cortico-limbic memory (semantic or declarative).

This combination of right brain skills, together with the memory of autoregulated procedure, produces the constellation of skills and traits typical of savant syndrome.