Daniel Tammet is a twenty-something with extraordinary mental abilities, Daniel is one of the world’s few savants. He can do calculations to 100 decimal places in his head, and learn a language in a week. This documentary follows Daniel as he travels to America to meet the scientists who are convinced he may hold the key to unlocking similar abilities in everyone. He also meets the world’s most famous savant, the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman’s character in the Oscar winning film ‘Rain Man’.
As a baby, Daniel cried constantly and banged his head against the wall. His parents were frantic but all doctors could suggest was that he was understimulated. One afternoon when he was four, an accident changed the way Daniel thought forever. While playing with his brother in the living room he suffered a series of epileptic seizures which transformed his brain chemistry, giving him the gift of synaesthesia.
This condition occurs when the parts of the brain responsible for different areas of perception get mixed up. Brain scans of autistic savants suggest that the right hemisphere might be compensating for damage in the left hemisphere. While many savants struggle with language and comprehension – skills associated primarily with the left hemisphere – they often have amazing skills in mathematics and memory – primarily right hemisphere skills. Daniel began to respond emotionally to numbers, which he started to ‘see’ as complex, beautiful shapes and textures.