Orlando Serrell from Virginia was 10 when he was struck by a baseball on his temple during a game. He lost consciousness for a while, but when he woke up again, everything seemed to be normal. Only a year later did Orlando notice that he could remember every single detail of every single day of his life since his accident. Every date, every day of the week, what he had for lunch and of what color his sister´s socks were or what program was on TV. Orlando, now at the end of his 30s, feels great - but the archive in his head grows from day to day.
Kim Peek from Salt Lake City is the“real rainman.” He doesn't read books - he scans them. The visual system of his brain allows him to read one page of a book with one eye and the other page at the same time with his other eye, allowing him to memorize the whole content within 8 seconds. Kim records any data like a hard drive: melodies, names, historic dates, the calendar, the complete TV program listings, every area code of every place in the USA, the road map of every state. But Kim pays a price for his mysterious abilities: as a child he was said to be strongly mentally disabled - until he could recite his first encyclopedias at 4 years old. At 50 years old now, the Mega-Savant, (as scientists call him in awe), still can´t live on his own.
Howard Potter, who attracted attention when he was a child because he could calculate the exact number of peas on his plate just by a glance, is still dependent on his mother´s help in daily life and has been for over 40 years. Howard extracts square roots like others count the fingers of their hands, he loves prime numbers and even more: the endless reservoir of soccer results. “Howard doesn't know the excitement of scoring a goal, his mother says, He´s only interested in the numbers”.
Where does memory come from? Why do we remember some things and forget others? What kind of filters are responsible for recording some data and deleting others? Or do we record everything, like Prof. Gerhard Roth of the university of Bremen says? And if we record everything - how can we open the secret chambers of our memory like the savants do?
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