If trauma permanently damages the brain

neurology Brain damage: suddenly a criminal - or a genius?

It is now known that Padgett is one of the few people with Savant Syndrome. Savant - that is French and means one who knows. Worldwide there are only about 100 people with this syndrome, which is also known as partial performance or island talent. This means that these people have an incredible talent in a small area, e.g. mathematics. Most of them are autistic and often suffer from severe social deficits. In the case of the other savants, neuropsychological brain diseases or a traumatic brain injury can be the cause of the talent.

Lachlan Connors also developed unimagined talents. After a sports accident, he suddenly became interested in music, began playing piano pieces and composing, although he was never particularly musical. Today he masters 13 instruments and is on the road as a professional musician.

Prior knowledge required

It all sounds incredible and even Hollywood has used this material in a number of films such as "Phenomenon", "Rain Man" or "The Mercury Puzzle".

Prof. Dr. med. Hellmuth Obrig from the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Neurosciences in Leipzig does not believe in the theory that a person suddenly becomes a genius. An injury to the brain always means the loss of brain matter. This does not make the brain any more powerful. However, it tries to compensate for the loss.

Neurons are not a program that you can buy in a package. It is a complex network that sits in different places in the brain.

Prof. Hellmuth Obrig

Obrig means that there are usually many different strategies anchored in our brain for solving a problem. If one of these strategies is lost, another existing strategy is used to achieve the goal. So far, we were simply not aware of this, because we have always solved the problem in the tried and tested way and it worked that way.

That could have been the case with Jason Padgett too. Because of the accident, his brain found other ways to look at math problems. So he didn't find it out of the blue, his brain has just worked differently since the accident.