I have written about our case study of a person with acquired synesthesia and savant syndrome in an earlier post on this blog. To make a long story short, JP was hit on the head in a mugging incident and acquired traumatic brain injury.
After the incidence he started experiencing the world in terms of geometrical figures. He also had lost his ability to see smooth boundaries and smooth motion. He sees objects as separated from their surroundings in terms of tiny tangent and secant lines. He experiences motion in picture frames. When objects are moving relative to him or he is moving relative to objects, three-dimensional geometrical figures form before his eyes.
Right after the incident he started drawing some of these images by hand. They turned into beautiful pieces of art that have received several awards. After some elementary math training following the accident, JP also experienced automatic visual imagery in response to certain mathematical formulas.
One thing I didn't note in my earlier post was that JP also underwent remarkable personality changes following the incident. A friend of mine, a psychologist, brought this to my attention. Before the incident JP's two main interests were women and partying. Now his main passions are mathematics and drawing. In terms of more explicit personality traits, it appears that JP went from extroverted to introverted, from easy-going to neurotic, from careless to high achiever and from flaky to serious. This is quite interesting, as personality traits normally are seen as traits that stay relatively stable over time. Apparently, when the brain undergoes forced modulation, the structural changes can affect personality quite drastically, even when the person is otherwise able to lead a quite normal life. We don't know yet what led to these personality changes but we are hoping to look into this in our further studies. In the embedded clip from ABC's Nightline, which aired last Friday, you can see glimpses of JP's personality before and after the incident.