Bottle, Tulip and Wineglass: Semantic and Structural Picture Processing by Savant Artists


Requests for reprints to: B. Hermelin, Psychology Department, University of London, Goldsmiths' College, London SE 14 6NW, U.K.


Abstract— Semantic and structural aspects of picture processing were investigated with graphically gifted mentally handicapped subjects and intellectually normal children. The results suggest that savants as well as controls rely primarily on semantically organised memory schemata when reproducing pictures. A semantically determined strategy also determines picture sorting. The findings indicate that within the domain of expertise there appears to be no difference between savants and normals regarding the nature of the mental structures underlying specific talents. The mental structures on which such talents: are based, should therefore be regarded as being relatively independent of the level of general cognitive functioning.