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No. 133: JAN-FEB 2001

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Unlocking Hidden Talents

Dementia is a devastating illness. The brain deteriorates slowly. Sometimes, though, it seems like the illness strips away barriers and reveals hidden or suppressed talents, as seen in the two dementia patients described below.

One 53-year-old man, a car stereo installer with a 10th-grade education and no prior interest in art, suddenly began painting. At first, he drew simple still lifes of vases and bridges. But his work became increasingly sophisticated. Eventually, he was painting Indians, churches and haciendas recalled from distant memories of his youth.

Similarly, a 51-year-old housewife who had never had artistic training took up painting. She initially created unsophisticated images of rivers, ponds and rural settings; later, elaborate and sometimes eccentric versions of the works of great masters.

Unfortunately, such new-found talents are short-lived. They, too, deteriorate.

(Stein, Rob; "Patients' New Gift Paints Clearer Image of Disease," The Brain in the News, p. 7, October 30, 1998. Cr. J. Cieciel)

Comment. This peeling away of mental barriers suggests that we all have hidden or suppressed capabilities. Perhaps, some day, we will know how to unlock these in normal people. It is pertinent here that in idiot savants these mental barriers are also somehow removed to expose remarkable mathematical talents, such as calendar calculating. See OUR UNTAPPED TALENTS in SF#125.

From Science Frontiers #133, JAN-FEB 2001. 2001 William R. Corliss

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