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Daniel Tammet: An Autistic Savant Explains His World--And Ours
The Brain | July 28, 2011

Daniel Tammet: An Autistic Savant Explains His World--And Ours


"I want to talk to you about perception," says Daniel Tammet, who has synesthesia. To him, words, numbers and colors appear woven together. He sees numbers as colorful objects and mathematical equations as beautiful paintings. The high-functioning autistic savant—one of only 50 in the world—conveys his unique way of looking at things in this mindbending TED talk. He explores new ways of computing the world through adjusting the way we view our reality. “Personal perceptions are at the heart of how we acquire knowledge," Tammet says. "Aesthetic judgments and abstract reasoning guide and shape the process of how we come to know what we know.” His vivid description of how his own mind works is an incredibly rare ability for someone with autism; we're fortunate to have this insight.

Tammet uses groundbreaking scientific research and an almost cinematic recall of how his brain works to explain how our natural intuitions can help us learn a foreign language, and why there is more to intelligence than IQ. His original ideas concerning the genesis of genius and exceptional creativity are illustrated with examples from the breakthroughs and breakdowns of some of history's greatest minds. Ultimately, his keynote jolts you into rethinking how you perceive your surroundings—or even the text you're reading right now. As Tammet says, “words can have colors, emotions, shapes, and personalities. The world is richer, vaster than it too often seems to be.”

Read more about autism speaker Daniel Tammet
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