The mechanisms that make the brain work are not only revealed through deficits caused by injuries.

In some cases, it is l a existence of special or increased capacities that gives us clues about the functioning of the human nervous system and how abnormal brain functioning need not be synonymous with deficiencies. The Savant’s Syndrome , also known as Sage’s Syndrome , is a clear example of this.

What is Savant’s Syndrome?

Savant’s syndrome is a broad concept that encompasses a series of abnormal cognitive symptoms that are related to prodigious mental abilities . This may seem like an overly ambiguous definition, but the truth is that so-called savants can display different types of enhanced cognitive abilities: from a near-photographic memory to the ability to write upside down sentences at high speed or to do complex mathematical calculations intuitively without any prior training in mathematics.

However, the areas in which people with savantism stand out are usually more or less well defined, and do not necessarily involve only processes related to logical and rational thinking. For example, it is perfectly possible that Savant’s Syndrome is expressed through a spontaneous ability to create artistic pieces.

Although Savant’s Syndrome serves as a catch-all category to label many very different cases, almost all of them have in common the fact that they involve automatic and intuitive psychological processes, which do not cost the person with Savant’s Syndrome any practice or effort.

The case of Kim Peek

One of the most famous cases of savantism is that of Kim Peek , which we discussed in a previous article. Peek was able to memorize practically everything, including all the pages of the books he read. However, this is not the only case of a person who has Savant’s Syndrome, and many of them have a similar capacity to make everything recorded in memories.

Some problems

Although Wise Syndrome refers to increased cognitive abilities, in many cases it is associated with deficits in other areas, such as poor social skills or speech problems, and some researchers believe it is related to the autism spectrum or Asperger’s Syndrome.

This is consistent with a conception of the brain as a limited set of resources that must be well managed. If many areas of the brain are constantly competing for the resources needed to function and there is a imbalance in the way they are distributed, it is not unreasonable that some capacities grow at the expense of others.

However, part of the reason why presenting savantism need not be all advantages is beyond the autonomous functioning of the brain. Specifically, in the social fit of these people. To have a series of faculties that can be labelled under the idea of Savant’s Syndrome is, in part, to perceive the world in a very different way than other people do.

Therefore, if the two parties are not sufficiently sensitized to put themselves in each other’s place and make life together easier, the person with savantism may suffer the consequences of marginalization or other barriers that are difficult to overcome.

What causes savantism?

The quick answer to this question is that is not known . However, there are indications that many of these cases can be explained by a functional asymmetry between the two brain hemispheres, or something that alters the way these two halves work together.

In particular, it is believed that the expansion of some functional areas of the right hemisphere that appears to compensate for some deficiencies in the left hemisphere could be the cause of such a varied set of symptoms. However, there is still a long way to go before we can have a full picture of such a complex neurological phenomenon.

Bibliographic references:

  • Corrigan, N. (2012).Toward a better understanding of the savant brain. Comprehensive psychiatry , 53(6), pp. 706 – 717.
  • Howlin, P. (2012).Understanding savant skills in autism.Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 54(6), pp. 484 – 484.
  • Treffert, D. (2014).Savant Syndrome: Realities, Myths and Misconceptions.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(3), pp. 564-571.