Jason Padgett, who just published a memoir with Maureen Seaberg called “Struck by Genius” , is one of a rare set of individuals with acquired savant syndrome, in which a normal person develops prodigious abilities after a severe injury or disease. Other people have developed remarkable musical or artistic abilities, but few people have acquired mathematical faculties like Padgett’s.
In 2002, two men savagely attacked Jason Padgett outside a karaoke bar, leaving him with a severe concussion and post-traumatic stress disorder. But the incident also turned him into a mathematical genius who sees the world through the lens of geometry.
As a result, furniture salesman from Tacoma, Washington, who had very little interest in academics, developed the ability to visualize complex mathematical objects and physics concepts intuitively. The injury, while devastating, seems to have unlocked part of his brain that makes everything in his world appear to have a mathematical structure.
“I see shapes and angles everywhere in real life” — from the geometry of a rainbow, to the fractals in water spiraling down a drain, Padgett told The African Renaissance News. “It’s just really beautiful.”
Now, researchers have figured out which parts of the man’s brain were rejiggered to allow for such savant skills, and the findings suggest such skills may lie dormant in all human brains.