Acquired Savant Syndrome

Was watching that program called ‘Heir Hunters’ this morning (ok I’m on holiday and at least its not Jeremy Kyle) and they were hunting the heirs of a man who earlier in life almost died of meningitis. On recovering he suddenly developed amazing musicality such that he could instantly play on piano any song or music on hearing it for the first time. Although very rare there are a number of similar cases where an illness or blow to the head has resulted in savant skills for things like prodigeous feats of calculation and feats of memory or photographic memory. I’ve heard much more about what are called ‘idiot savants’; typically autistic people who sometimes have an amazing level of ability in a very narrow area of skill contrasting with the generally very poor level they exhibit for everything else. The interesting thing about acquired savants, is that it suddenly results from some part of the brain being damaged. Of course, this set me wondering whether MS damage has ever resulted in aqcuisition of a savant type skill. There has been some previous discussion on here as to how it can sometimes produce enhanced sensory feedback or enhanced drive (e.g. of smell, or libido) but has anybody heard of a mental skill/ability being enhanced? Any comments?

Interesting idea. Tbh, I doubt it as MS causes slow axonal death and misfiring rather than more efficient firing or rewiring. I’d love to be proven wrong though!

Karen x

I have developed an amazing ability to put weight on…no effort on my part at all and it piles on on a weekly basis.

For the last 44 yrs that never happened.


Hi, this is a very old thread but I feel like I need to comment on it.

First, in response to one of the above replies, there are many cases in which stroke patients have acquired savant syndrome. MS seems to be very likely to cause acquired savant syndrome for the reason that the syndrome is usually caused by brain injury. This does not exclude axonal death or myelin degeneration-- not to mention, we all know of a very famous savant who had ALS, another degenerative nervous system disease, Stephen Hawking.

Anyway, I have just learned about acquired savant syndrome. I have had MS since 5 years old but had a very late diagnosis due to lack of physical disability, I was diagnosed at 17 years old. I have pediatric MS which tends to be very similar to the adult form of secondary-progressive MS. I am 18 years old and a pre-med biochemistry major in college, on my way to get my MD/PhD in clinical neuropsychology (ironically). I believe I may be a savant, and possibly have aspergers or avoidant personality disorder (which is very similar to a high functioning autism, closer to the end of the gamut of neurotypical than aspergers).

I see the world very differently than the normal person, I have very sensitive hearing and I tend to notice sounds, and physical things that other people miss very often. I am extremely observant and I tend to look for medical diagnosis in every person I see, I look for every possible issue that may be wrong and I believe that healthy people are becoming a minority, the health system is just failing at noticing the rapid decline of health among the general populous. I read every medical book I can find, I specifically love learning about neurology, neuropsychology, autoimmune diseases, oncology, rheumatology, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, among other things. I can notice slight changes in health of any person that I am around, I can notice the smallest details of their physical health as well.

All my life I have been proficient in art and science, I have won many awards for my art and I can draw full portraits in 30 minutes if given a subject. I love science and I have a basic understanding of most sciences and can easily grasp any medical theory I am given, even if I have never heard of the components of the theory prior. I have an insatiable urge to find out the reason “why” for every issue and every motive for every action a person has. I am also a proficient cook and received three full ride scholarships for Culinary Arts after completing vocational culinary school at the top of my class, but I decided to pursue my career in medicine instead.

Conversely, I have struggled with mathematics my entire life and struggle to remember concepts or processes of mathematical theorems. I also struggle to remember words, I have a speech impediment (slur, scanning speech, stutter), and I cannot properly express my thoughts out loud without an extremely detailed script. For this reason, among many health issues and personal problems, I have struggled in school and have been seen as a “dumb genius” that cannot complete school work properly but can understand complex subjects and show proficiency in my niches. This is why I believe I have acquired savant syndrome, but I may just be crazy.

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