Can we create artistically brilliant savants?

By Murray Bourne, 03 Dec 2004

The case of Jay Greenberg (a brilliant 12-year musical prodigy who is being compared to Mozart) reminded me of the research being done at Sydney University.

Experimental subjects have their brains (temporal lobe in particular) stimulated to “turn off” our natural tendency to focus on a small number of things at once. Once this has been turned off, subjects exhibit greater artistic abilities. (See one participant’s experience.)

This blows me away! Do we all have such musical and artistic abilities hidden and one day we will be able to stimulate them? (Isn’t this the job of educational institutions now? – yeh, right).

What’s the connection with savants? There are cases where people have had accidents resulting in damage to the temporal lobe. They have then experienced savant-like behaviour (like developing a phenomenal photographic memory for details and facts.)

I also wonder… we always hear that we only use 90% of our brains (some world leaders obviously use a lot less, but that’s another story). Could the above explain what is happening in the other 90% of our brains? Do we have this mass of memory, art, music and other stuff all going on in there but have suppressed it all?

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