The Science Channel has a new show call Ingenious Minds. Each episode profiles an individual savant. Tonight's show was about Derek Amato, an acquired savant who became a world class pianist after suffered a brain injury while diving into a pool. Before the injury Derek had no musical talent, had never touched a piano, and could not (and still can't) read music. Within days of the injury Derek sat down at a friend's piano and proceeded to compose and play music at a professional level. The neurologist on the show believes Derek's is the first such musically centered case of acquired savant syndrome.
What I found most interesting is Derek's synesthesia. He explained that he sees the music displayed as black and white squares that move in waves in front of his eyes from left to right. The shapes are then transferred into his fingers when he sits down in front of the keyboard.
I'm familiar with other acquired savants who have taken up artistic endeavors such as drawing or painting. In my mind these might be explained simply as creative expression. But I think Derek's case begs a different explanation. Not only was his creative talent exposed but he also instantly acquired a manual skill, playing the piano. It reminded me of something Tom Campbell said about tuning into different streams of information. It seemed to me that Derek's injury had retuned him to a different frequency on the information stream. It really makes one pause in wonder at the complexity and potential of the human spirit.
Here are a couple links if anyone is interested:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TpWerAMlxQ&feature=relatedhttp://www.wisconsinmedicalsociety.org/savant_syndrome/savant_profiles/derek_amatohttp://www.myspace.com/damatoproject