Tuesday, May 6, 2014

From dunce to genius in two blows!!

A (supposedly) low IQ man gets beaten up in a bar and is now recognized as a genius. Now it so happens that most folks who walk in the BP world are already smart, handsome and rich so this information is of not much use. But for the rest of us lesser folks not blessed with s, h, and r, hope now will spring eternal.

Of course he also suffers from PTSD/OCD but then again being a genius is so liberating that ....Padgett wouldn't change his new abilities if he could. "It's so good, I can't even describe it," he said"

Scientists have made some progress in figuring out how a man who received severe brain injuries suddenly became a mathematical genius. They say that an area behind the crown of the head, known as the parietal cortex, appears to have become more active, according to a report in Live Science. This region is known to combine information from different senses.

Jason Padgett was an ordinary furniture salesman in Tacoma, Washington, US. In 2002, he was assaulted by two men outside a karaoke bar resulting in severe concussion and an injured kidney. As Padgett recovered, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychological condition usually seen in war veterans.

As he progressed, Padgett realized that he was seeing the world differently - everything looked like it was made up of geometrical shapes. He saw a circle as made up of overlapping triangles. He could draw complex geometric shapes. He saw shapes when shown mathematical equations, a condition known as synesthesia where two senses get mixed up - you see a particular color when you sense a particular smell, and so on.

One day a physicist saw him making these shapes in a mall and was struck by Padgett's abilities. He persuaded Padgett to join college, where he is studying number theory. As his abilities and how he acquired them got known, brain scientists got interested in finding out what had happened in his brain.

Berit Brogaard, a philosophy professor now at the University of Miami and her colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study Padgett's brain, according to Live Science. The scans showed that the left parietal cortex lit up the most, while areas involved with visual memory, sensory processing and planning also showed activity, according to Live Science.

Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) the scientists zapped specific areas with a magnetic pulse which either activates or inhibits the area. When the parietal cortex was thus zapped, the synesthesia faded. According to Live Science, Brogaard has earlier shown that when brain cells die, they release chemicals to increase activity in surrounding areas. This may have happened in Padgett's case.

It appears that abilities like Padgett's may be dormant in every brain and they got released after the injury. However, Padgett has suffered other consequences too - the PTSD, an obsessive-compulsive disorder and high social anxiety, Live Science reports.

Yet Padgett wouldn't change his new abilities if he could. "It's so good, I can't even describe it," he said.
Link: www.livescience.com/45349-brain-injury-turns-man-into-math-genius.html

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