Brain Differences and Creativity

Notable creative ability and expression can be related to changes in brain structure and function from disease, stroke, injury, disability or other conditions.

Darold Treffert, M.D. notes, “Savant syndrome is a rare but remarkable condition in which people with developmental disabilities, including autism or other central nervous system disorders, have some remarkable islands of genius that stand in stark contrast to their overall handicap.”

He refers to three levels of savant syndrome: “splinter skills…youngsters, or adults, who memorize sports trivia or birthdays or may even do some calendar-calculating…Then there’s a second level of savants that I call talented savants…Generally, they are more highly honed into one particular skill, such as music or art, for example.

“And then there’s a third level, which I call prodigious savants. These are people whose skills are so spectacular that, if they were not disabled, they would be at a genius level.”

Neurologist Oliver Sacks relates the story of a physician who was struck by a bolt of lightning, and then experienced an obsession with learning to play classical piano music, something that had never interested him.

Continued: Brain Differences and Creativity

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