Inside the Mind of a Savant

December 23, 2009

On December 19th, 2009, Kim Peek, diagnosed with savant syndrome passed away. Savant syndrome is identified as one with exceptional recall memory who also walks with a sidelong gait, cannot manage the chores of daily life, and has great difficulties with abstraction. The extreme intelligence in only certain areas provides evidence to the multiple intelligence theory.

Kim Peek had an uncommon ability among those with savant syndrome; his perfect memory was not confined to one area of expertise, say solely mathematics, but extends to over fifteen areas of interests. Some of these include world history, sports, space programs, church history, Shakespeare, and classical music. An example of his incredible memory, Peek knew all the area codes and zip codes in the U.S., together with the television stations serving those locales.

At birth, Peek has an enlarged head, a malformed cerebellum, and without a corpus callosum. Peek also had damage to the left hemisphere which has been found to be a common factor with those with savant tendencies. Until a full comprehension of savant syndrome has been acquired, human cognition cannot be claimed to be understood.


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