Is There a Dormant Math Genius? Injury Turns Man into a 'Genius'

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By Sachin Trivedi | May 6, 2014 2:19 PM EST

A brutal attack has reportedly turned a man into a math genius. He now sees the world through geometry.

With this incident, scientists are intrigued by his case and start to study if there is a dormant math genius in all of us and if we can tap into these math skills.

According to a report by Livescience, Jason Padgett, a furniture salesman from Tacoma Washington, was able to visualize complex mathematical problems after two men attacked him in 2002 outside a karaoke bar, which left him with a severe concussion.

The abilities displayed by Padgett are a symptom of phenomena called Savant syndrome. A Savant is a person who has severe physical or mental disability but displays remarkable talent in a particular field.

Padgett who did not have any extraordinary math skills now draws circles made of overlapping triangles to understand the concept of pi. He can now draw complex geometric shapes of mathematical equations, without understanding the concepts and rules behind them.

He currently goes to college to get some formal training and wants to be a number theorist. Number theory is a branch of mathematics which deals with properties and relationships of numbers.

A person with Savant syndrome can exhibit extraordinary abilities in a particular field and not only in math. Some of the abilities include super memory, fast calculation of complex problems, musical ability, artistic ability and can learn up to 15 or sometimes 20 languages.

Is there a dormant power within us that we are not able to recognize and make use of? To be a Savant would mean having to compromise on certain aspects.

Padgett for instance reportedly suffered from post-traumatic stress and social anxiety.

Berit Brogaard and her colleagues scanned Padgett's brain to understand how he acquired his extraordinary math skills. Perhaps the future scientists will be able to understand the phenomena and help people to tap into their dormant abilities without having to compromise other abilities.

Another aspect of being a Savant is that the person sees the world very differently compared to others. In Padgett's case, he sees shapes and angles in whatever he sees.

"It's just really beautiful," he reportedly said.

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