September 20, 2012

Phantoms in the Brain: Autism and Savants

Take a look at this image and think about which drawing you think is the best...

- The first one?
- The second? 

- Most probably not the third.

The first was drawn by a seven year old autistic child named Nadia, the second by Leonardo Da Vinci himself, and the third by an average normal 8 year old kid. Nadia, whose IQ measured somewhere between 60 and 70, started drawing at the age of three. At age six, she showed signs of severe autism- ritualistic behavior, inability to relate to others and a very limited grasp of language. Among the autistic people, about 10% of them show such savant skills. And among the savants themselves, 50% of them have autism while the other 50% often have psychological disorders or mental illnesses.

Also, prodigious savants seem to have very significant disorder and disability.

A chapter from V.S. Ramachandran’s book ‘Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind’ attempts to explain autism and savants, and the link to the chapter is given below in source 1.

3) ‘
Phantoms in the Brain’, V.S. Ramachandran, 1998


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