December 21, 2009

Ahhh crap - R.I.P. Kim Peek

Savant and model for Rain Man. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Murray man inspired the movie 'Rain Man'
Kim Peek, the Murray man who inspired the 1988 movie "Rain Man," died Saturday of a sudden heart attack.

Peek, 58, was likely the world's most famous savant, enduring mental handicaps while at the same time possessing extraordinary gifts of memory and recall.

"He had a depth and breadth of knowledge and a memory that was just unbelievable," said Daniel Christensen, a professor with the University of Utah's Neuropsychiatric Institute. "He was unique. I don't know if there will ever be another person quite like Kim."
A bit more:
Peek was born on Nov. 11, 1951. At 9 months, doctors said he was severely mentally retarded.

"They told us we should institutionalize him because he would never walk or talk," Fran Peek said. "But we refused to do that."

By 16 months, Peek demonstrated extraordinary abilities. He could read and memorize entire volumes of information.

"He could find anything he wanted to. He read all of Shakespeare, the Old and New Testaments," Fran Peek said.

An MRI later showed that his brain lacked a corpus callosum -- the connecting tissue between the left and right hemispheres. Peek said his son's brain lacked the normal filtering system for receiving information. The condition left him able to retain nearly 98 percent of everything he read, heard or watched on television. The average person only retains about 45 percent.

As both a child and adult, Peek's favorite place was the library, where he devoured books at a confounding rate. At the time of his death, Peek is believed to have committed at least 9,000 books to memory. He could recite so many gigabytes of facts that people often called him Kim-puter. NASA made him the subject of MRI-based research.
An ever-retreating line in the sand. The more we think we know about the brain, the more we find out just how little we actually do know. The individual can range over such a territory of abilities and yet, society is still able to function (except for current events in Washington, DC but then, I am just feeling snarky). Rest in Peace Kim -- you are one of a kind... Posted by DaveH at December 21, 2009 10:44 PM | TrackBack
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