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Ramachandran, Dr V S - Describes Tom



Type of Spiritual Experience


The following example is of a little boy whose occipital lobe was probably also damaged…..

A description of the experience

Phantoms in the Brain – Dr V. S. Ramachandran [Professor and Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognition, University of California and visiting fellow All Souls College, Oxford]

The realms of art and music are punctuated with savants whose talents have amazed and delighted audiences through the ages.  Oliver Sacks describes Tom, a 13 year old boy who was blind and incapable of tying his own shoes.

 Although he had never been instructed in music or educated in any way, he learned to play the piano simply by hearing others play. 

He absorbed arias and tunes from hearing them sung and could play any piece of music on the first try as well as most accomplished performer.  One of his most remarkable feats was to perform three pieces of music all at once. 

With one hand he played 'Fisher's Horn Pipe', with the other he played 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' and simultaneously he sang 'Dixie'...........

Tom composed his own music, and yet, as a contemporary observer pointed out 'He seems to be an unconscious agent acting as if he is acted on and his mind is a vacant receptor where nature stores her jewels to recall them at her pleasure'

The source of the experience

Ramachandran, Dr V S

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps