savant for a day

Allan Snyder, a scientist at the University of Sydney, has found that during transcranial magnetic stimulation people exhibit savant-like intelligence (requires registration).

There are four drawings at the top of the page drawn by a research subject who was asked to draw a picture of a dog before, during and after the TMS. As you can see, the quality of the drawing improved dramatically. I’m sure it will take years of research to learn more about the process, but it’s exciting to think what you could do with a turbo boost of intelligence every now and then.

Of course, it’s not just for artists. Snyder tested it “dozens of times on university students, measuring its effect on their ability to draw, to proofread and to perform difficult mathematical functions like identifying prime numbers by sight. Hooked up to the machine, 40 percent of test subjects exhibited extraordinary, and newfound, mental skills.”


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  1. I’d like to have one of these magneto thingies installed at desk please. Although, the thought of beaming electro-magnetic pulses into my noodlecap is a bit disturbing. I liken it to people who live under high voltage power lines and power stations. It has to mess you up after a while.
    My aunt is autistic, she’s the type that can remember dates and what everyone was doing on that date. She’s also fantastic with numbers and yet she always messes up the usage of “and” and “an”. I wonder what the effects would be on a person like her.

    Comment by jason on June 26, 2003 @ 7:36 am
  2. I suggest Levi gets hooked up and we check his handwriting before and after.

    Comment by Renee on June 26, 2003 @ 9:52 am
  3. It could only improve my handwriting. :) Speaking of which, I’ve now got two instructional books, but I haven’t started either yet.

    Cognitive science is one of my favorite subjects, even though it’s really in its infancy as a science. No one really knows exactly how the brain works, but the bits and pieces we do know make for a fascinating puzzle.

    Comment by Levi on June 26, 2003 @ 10:16 am
  4. I read something this week that said geriatrics who regularly do word games like crossword puzzles are 2/3 less likely to develop Alzheimers as their counterparts. I love Boggle and Scrabble. Maybe there’s hope for clarity in my old age.

    Comment by Renee on June 26, 2003 @ 10:51 am
  5. I’ve heard of similar test results indicating that your brain is like a muscle. If exercised regularly it should remain in good working order for your entire life.

    A word game a day keeps Alzheimer’s away.

    Comment by dan on June 26, 2003 @ 11:30 am
  6. Hi everyone, my brother is an autistic mathematical savant who is able to multiply 2 8 digit numbers in his head in 60 seconds. Despite this he only scored an IQ of 67. Does this machine give u such abilities but make u stupid as well?

    Comment by Richard on October 18, 2003 @ 12:40 am

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