Savant talent


Correspondence to author at Psychology Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London SE146NW,UK. E-mail:


The notion of talent is an elusive concept but there appears to be sound evidence that both savants and experts share important qualities. Brief descriptive accounts of the talents displayed by savants are presented, along with a discussion of intelligence, implicit learning, and the organization of knowledge. Cognitive theories helpful in understanding exceptional abilities in people with autism are also discussed. It is concluded that a certain cognitive style, i.e. weak coherence, may predispose individuals to develop their talents. Although it would be interesting to speculate that some great artists and mathematicians show a similar degree of obsessive preoccupation and a cognitive style reminiscent of autistic spectrum disorder, presumably as a strategic mechanism, there is, as yet, little research on the subject.