Mechanism of Savant Syndrome

Savant syndrome is poorly understood. No widely accepted cognitive theory explains the combination of talent and deficit found in savants. It has been suggested that autistic individuals are biased towards detail-focused processing and that this cognitive style predisposes both autistic and nonautistic individuals to savant talents. Another hypothesis is that hyper-systemizing predisposes people to show talent, where hyper-systemizing is an extreme state in the empathizing–systemizing theory that classifies people based on their skills in empathizing with others versus systemizing facts about the external world, and that the attention to detail shown by many savants is a consequence of enhanced perception or sensory hypersensitivity in autistic individuals. It has also been suggested that savants operate by directly accessing low-level, less-processed information that exists in all human brains but is normally not available to conscious awareness.