Acquired Savant Syndrome (06:55)
After a concussion, Derek Amato gained the ability to play piano. Neuroscientist Berit Brogaard used MRIs to show that damage to the prefrontal cortex moved emphasis to other parts of Amato’s brain, leading to originality and creativity. With the right kind of brain stimulation, Brogaard speculates that anyone might gain a new talent.
Detective Sergeant James Rabbett can recognize every face he sees due to an especially active fusiform gyrus. After the police force spent many hours viewing video of the London riots, the New Scotland Yard established a super-recognizer unit. Rabbett proves his skill by recognizing faces in a large crowd.
Painter Concetta Antico can see up to 100 million colors due to a fourth cone in her retina. The condition may only be found in women because the mutation occurs on the X chromosome, but visual systems are still evolving.
Congenital Insensitivity to Pain (07:01)
Due to a genetic abnormality, Paul Waters and his sister cannot feel pain. Usually an injury activates nerves, sending pain neurons to the brain. Scientist Jeff Woods discovered the gene that controls pain sensing and the flow of charged particles to the brain, and hopes it can lead to new methods of treating pain.
Sense of Smell and Parkinson's (07:28)
Months before her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Joy Milne noticed a change in his smell. Through working with Tilo Kunath and Perdita Barran, she proved Parkinson’s has a unique smell. Barran began a clinical trial to identify unique molecules in the sebum of Parkinson’s patients and improve diagnosis and treatment.
Superior Autobiographical Memory (06:53)
People with HSAM, like Tracy Fitzgerald, can remember every day in detail going back many years. Neurobiologist James McGaugh discovered larger striatum and parahippocampal gyrus in the brains of patients. McGaugh hopes to find underlying causes of the condition by studying twins.
Locked-In State (09:29)
For two months, Juan Torres was conscious but unable to communicate, move, or see what was going on around him. Neuroscientist Adrian Owen began measuring the brain activity of patients in vegetative states and found that 20% are conscious. He uses ectroencephalography (EEG) to measure electrical activity produced by neurons.
Credits: Superhumans (00:40)
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