Daniel Tammet has one of the most extraordinary brains on Earth. Not only does Daniel Tammet possess exceptional mathematical abilities, but he is also very good with languages.
He speaks ten languages and successfully demonstrated he learned a foreign language in just a week! Daniel Tammet’s brain is different and he sees numbers as colors.
There are still many things scientists do not know about his condition and mysterious brain.
Born in 1979, Daniel Tammet has linguistic, numerical and visual synesthesia. This means that his perception of words, numbers and colors are woven together into a new way of perceiving the world.
His understanding of the world is very different from the average person. Not only is Daniel Tammett a great mathematician, but he also possess an incredible talent for languages. Daniel Tammet is a writer and an autistic savant.
Savantism is a rare condition in which people with ‘developmental delays’ of the brain (notably autism spectrum), and/or brain injury, demonstrate profound and prodigious capacities and/or abilities far in excess of those considered normal.
Tammet’s childhood was not easy.
He was born with epilepsy and according to his parents he often cried as a small child.
After an epileptic seizure when he was four years old, his brain began to change. Growing up as an undiagnosed savant was never easy.
Daniel was lonely. “I was desperate for a friend and I used to lie in bed at night thinking about what it would be like. My younger brothers and sisters had friends and I used to watch them playing to try to work out what they did and how friendship worked. Then, I would have traded everything for normality.
But I’ve since learned that being different isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
One person out of every 1,000 has a brain disorder called synaesthesia. Surprising as it may seem, there are people who can smell sounds, see smells or hear colors.
Daniel is experiencing numbers as colors. In his mind, every number up to 10,000 has its own unique shape and he can “see” the results of calculations as landscapes.
“My worlds of words and numbers blur with color, emotion and personality.”
In his book Born on a Blue Day, he describes his life with synaesthesia and savant syndrome, a rare form of Asperger’s. Dr Darold Treffert, a leading researcher in autism, says: “Such first-person explanations of savant abilities are extremely rare, in fact nearly non-existent.”
Daniel Tammet may very well be a scientific Rosetta stone, a key to understanding our mysterious brain.