This article is commented on by Howlin on page 484 of this issue.
The structure of savant calendrical knowledge
Article first published online: 13 MAR 2012
© The Authors. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology © 2012 Mac Keith Press
Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology
Volume 54, Issue 6, pages 507–513, June 2012
How to Cite
HEAVEY, L., HERMELIN, B., CRANE, L. and PRING, L. (2012), The structure of savant calendrical knowledge. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 54: 507–513. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2012.04250.x
- Issue published online: 10 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 13 MAR 2012
- PUBLICATION DATA Accepted for publication 8th January 2012. Published online 13th March 2012.
Aim We aimed to explore the organization of the calendar knowledge base underlying date calculation by assessing the ability of savant calendar calculators to free recall a series of date lists.
Method Four experiments are reported that assessed recall of structural and non-structural features of the calendar in eight savant calendar calculators (seven males; one female; median age 34y 6mo; age range 27–47y), five of whom had a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. The inclusion criterion was a genuine calculation ability rather than an interest in dates.
Results Mean recall was facilitated for material organized according to the structural features of a calendar (leap years, dates falling on the same weekday, dates occurring at 28y intervals) but not for a non-structural calendar feature (Easter Sunday).
Interpretation Distinctions are drawn between two sources of savant calendar-related knowledge, structural and event related. It has been suggested that structural knowledge plays a key role in the acquisition and operation of savant date calculation skills.