NPR logo
Stroke of Genius: How Derek Amato Became a Musical Savant
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/467680296/467779683" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Stroke of Genius: How Derek Amato Became a Musical Savant

Stroke of Genius: How Derek Amato Became a Musical Savant

Stroke of Genius: How Derek Amato Became a Musical Savant
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/467680296/467779683" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Derek Amato is one of only a few dozen known "sudden savants." i

Derek Amato is one of only a few dozen known "sudden savants." Derek Amato hide caption

toggle caption Derek Amato
Derek Amato is one of only a few dozen known "sudden savants."

Derek Amato is one of only a few dozen known "sudden savants."

Derek Amato

In 2006, Derek Amato suffered a major concussion from diving into a shallow swimming pool. When he woke up in the hospital, he was different. He discovered he was really good a playing piano. Yes, we're serious. Derek is one of just a few dozen known "sudden savants" or "accidental geniuses"—people who survive severe head injuries and come out the other side with special gifts for music or math or art. We were skeptical, so we brought Derek into a studio and asked him to play. He can't read music or even play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," but the music he improvises is beautiful. In this episode, Shankar talks with Derek and two experts to try to understand his musical transformation.

The Hidden Brain Podcast is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Kara McGuirk-Alison, Maggie Penman and Max Nesterak. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here. You can also follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain,@karamcguirk,@maggiepenman and @maxnesterak, and listen for Hidden Brain stories every week on your local public radio station.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.