The Medtronic was originally developed as a tool for brain surgery: by stimulating or slowing down specific regions of the brain, it allowed doctors to monitor the effects of surgery in real time. But it also produced, they noted, strange and unexpected effects on patients' mental functions: one minute they would lose the ability to speak, another minute they would speak easily but would make odd linguistic errors and so on. A number of researchers started to look into the possibilities, but one in particular intrigued Snyder: that people undergoing transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, could suddenly exhibit savant intelligence -- those isolated pockets of geniuslike mental ability that most often appear in autistic people.
Snyder is an impish presence, the very opposite of a venerable professor, let alone an internationally acclaimed scientist. There is a whiff of Woody Allen about him. Did I really want him, I couldn't help thinking, rewiring my hard drive? ''We're not changing your brain physically,'' he assured me. ''You'll only experience differences in your thought processes while you're actually on the machine.'' His assistant made a few final adjustments to the electrodes, and then, as everyone stood back, Snyder flicked the switch.
« Older Inspired by an episode of the short-lived TV serie... | A Swiss gourmet... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt