'Sh*t Got Weird': Woman Says Concussion Led To Acquired Savant Syndrome

| by Jared Keever
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An American woman, with no previous aptitude for drawing or architecture, says she can now “diagram structures with ridiculous accuracy” after a ski accident left her with both a mild concussion and an amazingly accurate memory. 

The Daily Mail reports the woman is likely the most recently recorded case of what scientists often call “acquired savant syndrome.” 

That woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, told her own story in an article published by xoJane on Monday. 

In the article, she tells of coming to after blacking out from her spill on the slopes during her senior year of college. She claims to have kept skiing that day, but, after suffering from headaches, she eventually went to a hospital. 

Doctors diagnosed her with a mild concussion, as well as a dislocated shoulder and broken collarbone, and sent her on her way, telling her to return if she had any problems with her head. 

“Over the following weeks, shit got weird,” the anonymous author writes in the article. 

She says she became aware of a “weird disconnect between what I was seeing and what my brain was processing.”

“I could remember everywhere, like flicking through the pages of a book,” she writes. “Every place I had ever been, but specifically the buildings.”

After a year of monitoring, and telling a team of three neurologists that she could “remember too much,” she was diagnosed with acquired savant syndrome, a condition in which a previously dormant aptitude for a specific subject is seemingly unlocked following a traumatic head injury. 

There are other documented cases. 

One such case made headlines last year when Jason Padgett published his book “Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel.” 

In the book Padgett tells his story of going from college dropout to math whiz after getting punched in the back of the head during a bar fight. 

According to a New York Post article, Padgett woke up from that fight as one of the few people in the world able to draw, by hand, complicated geometric patterns known as fractals. 

Other known cases involve acquired skills in art and music, according to the Daily Mail. 

As for the anonymous author from xoJane, she says she can now draw “down to the smallest detail” a diagram of nearly any room or building she has ever been in. That includes retracing her steps through the Louvre from a visit there 10 years ago, to a trailer she once visited in high school to pick up a six-pack of beer. 

Nothing “static” seems to be out of reach of her precise memory, she claims. 

“I can tell you what was in the vending machine at the rest stop off the 530 between Little Rock and Texarkana, because it’s fixed point,” she writes, citing one example. “I remember what was in there when I was there.”

Now graduated, the woman says she works a “normal” desk job but finds herself always considering going back to school to study architecture or design. 

“At least I know I’d be good at it!” she says.

Sources: Daily Mail, xoJane, New York Post 

Photo Credit: WikiCommons, xoJane