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The Savant Syndrome and Its Connection to Talent Development
Current Issue
Volume 5, 2018
Issue 2 (March)
Pages: 9-16   |   Vol. 5, No. 2, March 2018   |   Follow on         
Paper in PDF Downloads: 56   Since Jul. 5, 2018 Views: 1923   Since Jul. 5, 2018
Éva Gyarmathy, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology of the Research Centre for Natural Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.
The savant phenomenon cannot be linked solely to a mental deficit, as its previous label (savant idiots) suggested, and is not necessarily accompanied by autism. Its essence is that a special ability shows up in a certain area. The fact that people with usual abilities can also acquire savant abilities after head injuries suggest that the neuroplasticity of the brain could show special abilities and new ways of the ability development through special ways. This study examines the savant syndrome and its connection to other syndromes and the talent development. Though there are more and more documented cases and studies on the savant syndrome, this phenomenon is so neglected area that it is not even mentioned in the main diagnostic systems. Talent is much more studied than the savant syndrome, but still, it can’t be known with certainty what cerebral and developmental processes are behind outstanding abilities, and especially, talent. A review and comparison of the savant syndrome, autism and talent development lead to some mutual developmental and neurological characteristics. The results suggest that a savant is not a talent automatically, as the high ability and the compulsion on themselves are not enough to be a talent, but many talents can possess savant abilities. Savants can be regarded as pathological cases of talent development, and their study can reveal parts of the neurological background behind talent development in many ways. For example, the phenomenon, called „islands of genius” and an intense interest that are characteristic of savants appear even in non-pathological cases. Studies with savants seem to support theories of talent development according to which talent is a pre-disposition which appears as talent if the environment makes it possible through acceptance, encouragement and optimal challenges. The relationship between talent and the savant syndrome indicates that the savant syndrome might be a special form of talent, a neurological predisposition arising, like any other congenital potential, as a function of environmental influences in the form of different-from-normal behaviour.
Savant Syndrome, Cognitive Abilities, Talent, Autism
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