By Mark O’Neill
Being epileptic, I have had a deep interest in neuroscience for almost twenty years, and one of the most common things we know about the brain is that there’s a lot of things we still DON’T know about it.
But thanks to some accident victims who have subsequently suffered severe brain trauma, scientists have been able to unlock multiple “super-abilities” of the brain, abilities that ALL of us may have lying dormant – and undiscovered – within our heads – Heroes style.
Not all of the test cases owe their remarkable abilities to head injuries though. Some of the people involved are autistic such as Stephen Wiltshire who can glance at something and then make intricate drawings of it. Or Daniel Tammet whose near-fatal epileptic seizures now give him stunning talents including the ability to learn perfectly one of the most difficult languages ever, Icelandic, in only 7 days.
But it is the head injury cases which have excited scientists the most. It seems that damage to the brain has activated these normally dormant abilities and we are then given a startling glimpse into what the human mind is capable of doing.
Watch the following YouTube video to see Daniel Tammet in action doing complex mathematical calculations in his head – and watch him beat the calculator!