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The Key to Genius

Autistic savants are born with miswired neurons--and extraordinary gifts. The term savant dates from the late 19th century, when a small number of people in European asylums classified as feebleminded "idiots" were discovered to have extraordinary, even uncanny skills. One had memorized The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire after reading it a single time. Others were able to multiply long columns of numbers instantly and factor cube roots in seconds, though they could barely speak. Neuroscientists are discovering that savants are more like the rest of us than the medical world once believed.

Wired Magazine December 2003

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