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Fri Feb 22, 2013, 11:33 AM

When Brain Damage Unlocks The Genius Within

By Adam PiorePosted 02.19.2013 at 9:00 am

Derek Amato stood above the shallow end of the swimming pool and called for his buddy in the Jacuzzi to toss him the football. Then he launched himself through the air, head first, arms outstretched. He figured he could roll onto one shoulder as he snagged the ball, then slide across the water. It was a grave miscalculation. The tips of Amato’s fingers brushed the pigskin—then his head slammed into the pool’s concrete floor with such bone-jarring force that it felt like an explosion. He pushed to the surface, clapping his hands to his head, convinced that the water streaming down his cheeks was blood gushing from his ears.

At the edge of the pool, Amato collapsed into the arms of his friends, Bill Peterson and Rick Sturm. It was 2006, and the 39-year-old sales trainer was visiting his hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from Colorado, where he lived. As his two high-school buddies drove Amato to his mother’s home, he drifted in and out of consciousness, insisting that he was a professional baseball player late for spring training in Phoenix. Amato’s mother rushed him to the emergency room, where doctors diagnosed Amato with a severe concussion. They sent him home with instructions to be woken every few hours.

It would be weeks before the full impact of Amato’s head trauma became apparent: 35 percent hearing loss in one ear, headaches, memory loss. But the most dramatic consequence appeared just four days after his accident. Amato awoke hazy after near-continuous sleep and headed over to Sturm’s house. As the two pals sat chatting in Sturm’s makeshift music studio, Amato spotted a cheap electric keyboard.



Without thinking, he rose from his chair and sat in front of it. He had never played the piano—never had the slightest inclination to. Now his fingers seemed to find the keys by instinct and, to his astonishment, ripple across them. His right hand started low, climbing in lyrical chains of triads, skipping across melodic intervals and arpeggios, landing on the high notes, then starting low again and building back up. His left hand followed close behind, laying down bass, picking out harmony. Amato sped up, slowed down, let pensive tones hang in the air, then resolved them into rich chords as if he had been playing for years. When Amato finally looked up, Sturm’s eyes were filled with tears.

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http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/when-brain-damage-unlocks-genius-within

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Reply When Brain Damage Unlocks The Genius Within (Original post)
n2doc Feb 2013 OP
Baitball Blogger Feb 2013 #1
2naSalit Feb 2013 #2
Baitball Blogger Feb 2013 #3
2naSalit Feb 2013 #4
formercia Feb 2013 #5
Nay Feb 2013 #6
Warpy Feb 2013 #7
eppur_se_muova Feb 2013 #8

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 12:15 PM

1. There's still hope for many of us.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 01:30 PM

2. But does that mean

that we need a hard whack with a swimming pool or a baseball bat to get there?

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 01:32 PM

3. Who knew that one day we would blame our parents for NOT dropping us on our heads?

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 01:39 PM

4. INdeed

Who'd a thunk it?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 01:50 PM

5. I can see the Dark Side to this as well

when baser instincts are revealed.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 02:23 PM

6. Can I arrange to be dropped on the part of my head that makes it easy to learn languages?

That would be helpful.....

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 06:36 PM

7. Our brain seems to stand in its own way some of the time.

I've seen this phenomenon quite a few times, usually with people who had survived really massive brain injury. A bus driver was suddenly genius level in math, a little old man suddenly started to speak Portuguese when he couldn't get a single word of English out. In the latter case, his family recalled that grandparents had spoken it but that no one else in the family had.

It's why neurology was my first love. The brain is an amazingly weird organ and we're in the infancy when it comes to figuring out how and why it does what it does.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 01:39 PM

8. Sometimes you have to wait for the lightning to strike ...

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