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Blow to the Head Turns Man into Musical Genius

Blow to the Head Turns Man into Musical Genius

It sounds like something straight out of a movie: a person sustains a significant blow to the head and suddenly develops a previously unknown talent. But this actually happened to a Denver man after a terrible accident in a pool.

Six years ago, Derek Amato dove into the shallow end of a pool and gave himself a serious concussion. “I remember the impact being really loud. It was like a bomb going off. And I knew I hit my head hard enough that I was hurt. I knew I was hurt badly,” he said.

Although he suffered some memory and hearing loss, Amato suddenly found himself able to play fully-structured, original music on the keyboard when he couldn’t before.

“As I shut my eyes, I found these black and white structures moving from left to right, which in fact would represent in my mind a fluid and continuous stream of musical notation,” he said, adding that he was also able to play music from memory “as it had been etched in his mind’s eye.”

According to Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Andrew Reeves, the concussion actually rewired Amato’s brain, leading to a condition called “acquired savant syndrome.”

Although he still gets painful migraines, suffers from continued hearing loss and “collapses sometimes out of the blue,” Amato says his newfound musicianship makes up for it.

Still, we don’t recommend trying this at home as a way to quickly master the guitar.

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