Struck By Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel By Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg

IMG_3027.JPGIn Struck By Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel, we learn how the brutal attack that Jason Padgett experienced changed his perception of the world. Jason now sees it in a way that most of us can barely dream of – a world where the mathematical principles at it’s foundation have become transparent to him. Instead of seeing the world as a smooth, moving picture, he see it in a series of still frames overlaid with fractals and geometry.

Jason is the only known person to have acquired both savant syndrome along with synesthesia. The term savant is often used to describe people who have increased abilities in one area, often to the expense of their other abilities. Jason acquired an understanding of the mathematical principles that underlie our environment in a way that no one else could see. He also acquired conceptual synesthesia that allowed him to see numbers as shapes that could be manipulated. While conceptual synesthesia and savant syndrome are both rare, the fact that Jason acquired them after his brain injury is all the more remarkable.

Dr. Taffert taught me about the three R’s as they pertain to what happened to my brain. They stand for brain rewiring, recruitment of unused capacity, and release of dormant potential. Though these are present in people who are born with savant syndrome, he explained, their existence has been severely underestimated in the rest of us. Cases like mine prove a far greater plasticity of the brain in it’s ability to heal itself than was previously thought. He said that this has implications not only for brain-injury survivors like me, but also for those who have autism, neurological damage from strokes or nervous system disorders. This makes me hopeful that my experience may one day help other people. (pp. 220-221)

The concepts presented by Jason were unlike anything I had ever heard, and the inclusion of artwork helps the reader understand how he sees the world around him. I enjoyed the peek into his mind and found myself imagining what it would be like to see as he does.

You can see pictures of his artwork here.

Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone, but especially people with a strong affinity for math.