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Savant abilities in twins



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A description of the experience

Perception. 2006;35(6):837-45. Savant-like numerosity skills revealed in normal people by magnetic pulses. Snyder A, Bahramali H, Hawker T, Mitchell DJ. Centre for the Mind, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. allan@centreforthemind.com

Oliver Sacks observed autistic twins who instantly guessed the exact number of matchsticks that had just fallen on the floor, saying in unison "111".

To test the suggestion that normal individuals have the capacity for savant numerosity, we temporarily simulated the savant condition in normal people by inhibiting the left anterior temporal lobe of twelve participants with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). This site has been implicated in the savant condition.

Ten participants improved their ability to accurately guess the number of discrete items immediately following rTMS and, of these, eight became worse at guessing as the effects of the pulses receded. The probability of as many as eight out of twelve people doing best just after rTMS and not after sham stimulation by chance alone is less than one in one thousand.

PMID: 16836048

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