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Concussion Turns Ordinary Man into Musical Genius, Overnight

If getting hit on the head means that I’d get to be a kickass musician for the rest of my life, I think I would seriously consider it. It sounds impossible, but something of the sort happened to 41-year-old Derek Amato. He really didn’t have a choice about it, though.

Derek had no idea his life was about to change forever when he dove into the shallow end of a pool to catch a football at a party. He hit his head and had a concussion, resulting in Acquired Savant Syndrome – a rare condition where people display profound abilities (called savant skills) after suffering head trauma, abilities that they didn’t have at birth. In Derek’s case, the acquired ability is music.

Derek is one of only 30 people in the world with this rare condition and the only one to have acquired music as a savant skill. Before the fall, he just dabbled in guitar and had no idea how to read or write music. And now he can play eight different instruments with the ease of a professional musician. Watching him play on video, it’s pretty hard to believe this man has had no formal training in music at all.

derek-amato

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A Beautiful Mind – The Story of Daniel Tammet

Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant who can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations and learn foreign languages in a matter of days. He speaks ten different languages, including Romanian, Gaelic, Welsh, and Icelandic and even made up his own. It’s safe to say he has one of the most extraordinary minds on Earth.

Daniel Tammet was born on January 31 1979, in East London, England. As a young child, Daniel banged his head against the wall and cried constantly. Nobody really knew what was wrong with him, and all doctors could say was that he was understimulated. Then, one day, while playing with his brother, Daniel had an epileptic seizure. He started taking medication and had to go to the hospital every month for blood tests. It was a troubling time for his parents, as one of Daniel’s grandfather suffered from epilepsy and eventually died from it, and they were thinking their son could suffer the same fate. Luckily, the medication worked and he eventually overcame his condition. It was during his childhood that Daniel and his family discovered his brain was different. One day, his brother asked him to multiply a long series of numbers in his head, as a joke, but the boy just closed his eyes, and after five or ten seconds the right answer came out of his mouth. His brother asked him several other questions and his answers were always right. His parents witnessed the whole thing, but they didn’t make a big deal out of it and never pressured him to work his magic in front of other people. They knew he was different, but they wanted him to have a normal life.

Daniel-Tammet

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