Mysterious Brain Of Daniel Tammet :
A Scientific Rosetta Stone
A Scientific Rosetta Stone
Daniel Tammet has one of the most extraordinary brains on Earth! There are still many things scientists do not know about his condition and mysterious brain.
Born in 1979, Daniel Tammet has linguistic, numerical and visual synesthesia. This means that his perception of words, numbers and colors are woven together into a new way of perceiving the world. He sees numbers as colors.
His understanding of the world is very different from the average person. Not only is Daniel Tammett a great mathematician, but he also possess an incredible talent for languages. He speaks ten languages and successfully demonstrated he learned a foreign language in just a week!
Daniel Tammet is a writer and a high-functioning autistic savant. Savantism is a rare condition in which people with 'developmental delays' of the brain (notably autism spectrum), and/or brain injury, demonstrate profound and prodigious capacities and/or abilities far in excess of those considered normal.
Tammet's childhood was not easy. He was born with epilepsy and according to his parents he often cried as a small child. After an epileptic seizure when he was four years old, his brain began to change.
Growing up as an undiagnosed savant was never easy.
Daniel was lonely. "I was desperate for a friend and I used to lie in bed at night thinking about what it would be like. My younger brothers and sisters had friends and I used to watch them playing to try to work out what they did and how friendship worked. Then, I would have traded everything for normality. But I've since learned that being different isn't necessarily a bad thing."
One person out of every 1,000 has a brain disorder called synaesthesia. Surprising as it may seem, there are people who can smell sounds, see smells or hear colors. Daniel is experiencing numbers as colors. In his mind, every number up to 10,000 has its own unique shape and he can "see" the results of calculations as landscapes.
"My worlds of words and numbers blur with color, emotion and personality. As Juan said, it's the condition that scientists call synesthesia, an unusual cross-talk between the senses. Here are the numbers one to 12 as I see them -- every number with its own shape and character. One is a flash of white light. Six is a tiny and very sad black hole. The sketches are in black and white here, but in my mind they have colors. Three is green. Four is blue. Five is yellow," said Tammet.
His mathematical abilities are so extraordinary that it took a long time for them to be recognized. Tammet holds the European record for remembering and recounting the number Pi to 22,514 decimal places. He is also familiar with a number of foreign languages, including French, Finnish, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Estonian, Icelandic, Welsh and Esperanto, as well as his own invented language, "Mänti", which has about 1,000 words.
Tammet learned Icelandic in a week, in front of the cameras. The culmination of the challenge was a live interview on Icelandic TV, which he coped with brilliantly.
Unlike most savants, Daniel Tammet has no obvious mental disability, and most important to scientists, he can describe his own thought process. Daniel Tammet may very well be a scientific Rosetta stone, a key to understanding our mysterious brain.