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Defining The Syndrome A Closer Look at Savant Syndrome, Who it Affects and the Biology Behind the Phenomenon By Diana Hagan.

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Presentation on theme: "Defining The Syndrome A Closer Look at Savant Syndrome, Who it Affects and the Biology Behind the Phenomenon By Diana Hagan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Defining The Syndrome A Closer Look at Savant Syndrome, Who it Affects and the Biology Behind the Phenomenon By Diana Hagan

2 Overview… Definition of the syndrome and description. When was savant syndrome first characterized and the history behind it. Various classifications within the syndrome. What are the specific talents associated? What is the most probable explanation for the syndrome from a biological standpoint? Genius of Earlswood Asylum James Henry Pullen

3 Defining the syndrome What is Savant syndrome? –Savant Syndrome is a rare, but spectacular, condition in which persons with various developmental disorders, including autistic disorder, have astonishing islands of ability, brilliance or talent. Such abilities are stunning considering the persons overall limitations due to their varying developmental disorders. How common is the disorder? - Approximately one in ten (10%) of persons with autistic disorder have some savant skills. In other forms of development disability, mental retardation or brain injury, savant skills occur in less than 1% of cases. The article that inspired my speech from Scientific America Mind, special edition written by Darold Treflert and Greg Wallace.

4 The History The term 'savant' was not applied until 1887 by Dr. J. Langdon Down. Dr. J. Langdon Down gave a series of lectures before the Medical Society of London based on his 30- year experience as Superintendent of the Earlswood Asylum. In the lectures he outlined 10 specific cases where he found there to be a “striking contrast between superiority and disability within the same person.” He coined the term idiot savant for these extraordinary individuals, linking those two words together because at that time the term idiot was an accepted scientific term for IQ below 25, and savant, or "knowledgeable person", was derived from the French word savoir meaning "to know". King's College Choir, Richard Wawro, Edinburgh

5 Classifications splinter skills. These include behaviors such as obsessive preoccupation with, and memorization of, music and sports trivia, license plate numbers, maps, historical facts, or obscure items such as vacuum cleaner motor sounds, for example. Talented savants are those persons whose musical, artistic, mathematical or other special skills are more prominent and highly honed, usually within an area of single expertise. prodigious savant is reserved for those very rare persons in this already uncommon condition where the special skill or ability is so outstanding that it would be spectacular even if it were to occur in a non-handicapped person South Devon Coast, England by Richard Wawro, Edinburgh

6 Typical savant skills Music is the generally the most common savant skill. (play by ear, composition etc) Artistic talent, usually painting or drawing, is seen next most frequently. (also sculpture, calculation, mechanical ability, distance calculation) Calendar calculating is curiously and conspicuously common among savants, particularly considering the rarity of that obscure skill in the general population. Other skills are occasionally seen including multilingual acquisition ability prodigious memory, a special kind of memory-extraordinarily deep but very, very narrow Derek Paravicini Derek, now in his early twenties, was born premature, at 25 weeks, and weighing just over half a kilogram. As a result of the oxygen therapy required to save his life, Derek lost his sight, and his development was affected too.

7 Most Probable Cause Left brain damage from pre-natal, peri-natal or post-natal CNS damage with migratory, right brain compensation, coupled with corresponding damage to higher level, cognitive (cortico-limbic) memory circuitry with compensatory take over of lower level, habit (cortical-striatal) memory. But why are males so over represented within the syndrome? –the neurotoxic effect of circulating testosterone on the left hemisphere in the male fetus based on observations and reported by Geschwind and Galaburda. Quotes taken from “Islands of Genius” Darold Treflert

8 Resources and Works sited Works Sited: “James Henry Pullen— The Genius of Earlswood Asylum” Darold Treffert, MD “Islands of Genius” Scientific American Mind Special Edition By Gregory Wallace and Dr. Darold Treffert For further reading: *USA Today article: "Science getting to roots of autism" The January 12, 2004 USA Today The Key to Genius Superb Wired Magazine article on Autistic Savants December 2003 o


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