How 1 Man’s Brain Injury Turned Him Into A Math Savant | Megyn Kelly TODAY

How 1 Man’s Brain Injury Turned Him Into A Math Savant | Megyn Kelly TODAY


>>>WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY. AND THIS NEXT STORY IS INCREDIBLE. THIS MORNING WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE POWER OF THE HUMAN MIND AND HOW TO UNLEASH IT. YOU’RE ABOUT TO MEET A MAN WHO MANY OF US CAN RELATE TO. HE STRUGGLED IN SCHOOL, HE WASN’T PARTICULARLY FOND OF IT. BUT THEN COMES THE PART MOST OF US CANNOT RELATE TO. ONE DAY HE BECAME A MATH GENIUS. WATCH THIS. MEET JASON PADGETT. JASON IS A MATHEMATICAL GENIUS.>>THE INNER BOUNDARY OF PI IS F OF X TIMES THE SIGN OF PI DIVIDED BY X.>>BUT HE WASN’T ALWAYS GIFTED.>>I REMEMBER SAYING, MATH IS STUPID.>>JASON WAS A TYPICAL TEENAGER.>>GOING OUT WITH MY BUDDIES ON THE WEEKENDS, CHASING GIRLS. GOING TO PARTIES.>>THEN ON A REGULAR NIGHT OUT WITH FRIENDS, ON FRIDAY, THE 13th, DECEMBER OF 2002, JASON WAS ATTACKED.>>I DIDN’T SEE ANYTHING COMING, I JUST HEARD, MORE THAN FELT, THIS THUD IN THE BACK OF MY HEAD. AND I SAW A BRIGHT FLASH OF LIGHT. THE NEXT THING I KNEW, I WAS ON THE GROUND.>>JASON WAS RUSHED TO THE HOSPITAL AND TREATED FOR HIS INJURIES.>>IT GAVE ME THIS REALLY STRONG MEDICINE SHOT AND SENT ME HOME. AND I REMEMBER ON THE WAY HOME THINKING HOW BIZARRE EVERYTHING LOOKED.>>WHEN JASON AWOKE THE NEXT MORNING, HIS VISION WAS MORE THAN BLURRY.>>EVERYTHING THAT WAS PERFECTLY SMOOTH BEFORE, WHEN IT MOVED HAD THIS THESE LITTLE TINY EDGES. IT LOOKED CHOPPY LIKE YOU WERE WATCHING AN OLD FASHIONED FLIP BOOK.>>JASON WOULD DRAW WHAT HE WAS SEEING, BUT COULD NOT EXPLAIN IT UNTIL A CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH A STRANGER IN A MALL.>>AND HE SAID, HEY, I’M A PHYSICIST. HE GOES, WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON THERE? IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE TRYING TO TALK ABOUT SPACE TIME AND THE DISCRETE STRUCTURE OF THE UNIVERSE. HE GOES, BUT I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYBODY DOING IT IN LAYMAN TERMS BEFORE. HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT TAKING A MATH CLASS?>>SO JASON WENT BACK TO SCHOOL, AND IT TURNED OUT THAT STRANGER WAS RIGHT. JASON WAS SEEING COMPLEX MATHEMATICAL OBJECTS EVERYWHERE. BUT WHY?>>I SAW A SHOW WITH A DOCTOR NAMED DR. DALE TREVFORD AND HE WAS DOING A SHOW WITH SAVANTS, AND I SENT HIM AN E. M-MAIL, SAYING, AM I LOSING MY MIND?>>HE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH ACQUIRED SAVANT SYNDROME.>>THEY FOUND I WAS USING AREAS OF THE BRAIN THAT WE NORMALLY DON’T HAVE CONSCIOUS ACCESS TO. I THINK IT IS NOT JUST POSSIBLE, THAT IT IS VERY LIKELY THAT WE ALL POSSESS THESE ABILITIES.>>OMG. PLEASE HELP ME WELCOME JASON PADGETT. [ APPLAUSE ] I HAVE SO MUCH I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT. OKAY, SO FIRST OF ALL, YOU WEREN’T VERY GOOD IN SCHOOL MATH?>>I WAS HORRIBLE. I USED TO MAKE FUN OF MATH AND I WOULD SAY THINGS LIKE MATH IS STUPID, AND HOW DOES THAT APPLY TO ANYTHING IN THE REAL WORLD. AND NOW IT IS THE REAL WORLD.>>IS IT TRUE YOU DID NOT PROGRESS PAST PREALGEBRA.>>YES.>>IS IT TRUE YOU DID YOUR SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL TWICE?>>YES. [ LAUGHTER ]>>I GRADUATED, BECAUSE MY FRIENDS ACTUALLY DID THE FINAL REPORT FOR ME. [ LAUGHTER ]>>SO YOU — YOU WERE LIKE A JOCK. YOU WERE A PARTY GUY.>>ALL I DID WAS CHASE GIRLS. GOOF OFF. IT’S SO EMBARRASSING, BUT, YEAH. IT WAS — A MILE-WIDE — LIKE A MILLIMETER-DEEP LIFE.>>YOU WEREN’T WORKING ON YOUR MATH, YOU WERE WORKING ON YOUR MULLET.>>MY MULLET AND MY BICEPS.>>SO YOU WERE OUT HAVING A GOOD TIME AT THE BAR, THIS HORRIBLE ATTACK HAPPENS. AND FOR HOW LONG — LIKE, IN THE DAYS AND MONTHS AND YEARS RIGHT AFTER THAT, WHEN YOU’RE SEEING SHAPES AND ALL OF THAT, DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA YOU HAD A NEW GIFT?>>I MEAN, I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENING. BUT AT FIRST, REMEMBER THINKING, I’M SEEING WHAT I PERCEIVE TO BE MATH EVERYWHERE. BUT THEN I THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, I SEE SOMEBODY THAT’S TALKING TO THEMSELVES. AND THEY DON’T KNOW THEY’RE CRAZY. WHAT IF I THINK I’M SEEING MATH EVERYWHERE AND I REALLY DON’T.>>DID YOU WORRY YOU WERE CRAZY?>>FOR A WHILE. I WOULD GO BACK AND FORTH. BUT THEN I WOULD DRAW IT, AND IT WOULD MAKE SENSE. AND SO I STARTED MAKING UP MY OWN SYMBOLS TO DESCRIBE IT. AND IT TURNS OUT, WHEN I WENT BACK TO SCHOOL, I HAD THE SYMBOLS THAT REPRESENTED THE SAME THINGS. I JUST MADE UP DIFFERENT SYMBOLS THAN WHAT TRADITIONAL MATH DOES.>>SO THEY LOOKED KIND OF LIKE THIS, RIGHT?>>YEAH, THESE ARE FRACTALS. AND EVERY SHAPE IN THE UNIVERSE IS A FRACTAL. SPACE TIME ITSELF IS A FRACTAL. FRACTALS ARE SHAPES THAT WHEN YOU TAKE THEM APART INTO PIECES, THE PIECES ARE THE SAME AS THE WHOLE. SO OUR VEINS, OUR LUNGS, OUR BRAINS, OUR NEURONS, EVERYTHING FOLLOWS THESE FRACTAL ALGORITHMS. CANCER, EVEN.>>YOU SOUND SO SMART. SO YOU’RE SITTING IN THE MALL, AND INSTEAD OF JUST DRINKING LIKE YOUR ORANGE JULIUS, YOU’RE WORKING ON, LIKE, THESE CRAZY DRAWINGS.>>RIGHT.>>AND I MEAN, IT WAS JUST BY CHANCE SOME PHYSICIST WALKS BY AND SEES YOUR DRAWING.>>HE LOOKS OVER, AND HE’S LIKE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ARE YOU STUDYING MATH? AND I WAS LIKE, I’M TRYING TO DESCRIBE, YOU KNOW, THE STRUCTURE OF SPACE TIME — DISCREETLY. CAN SPACE BE CUT INFINITELY SMALLER, IS THERE A LIMIT. AND SO WE STARTED TO TALK. AND HE SAID, WOW, THIS LOOKED VERY MATHY, BUT I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYBODY TALK ABOUT IT IN LAYMAN TERMS. HE SAID, YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW WEIRD THIS IS. HE SAID, HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT GOING BACK TO SCHOOL, TAKING A MATH CLASS. AND I SAID, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD IDEA.>>IS IT TRUE HE ALSO SAID TO YOU, THIS IS THE KIND OF THING PEOPLE WINN NOBEL PRIZES FOR.>>I SAID, WHAT IF I’VE EVER DISCOVERED NOTHING NEW. HE SAID PEOPLE HAVE WON NOBEL PRIZES FOR FINDING EASY WAYS TO DESCRIBE DIFFICULT CONCEPTS.>>WHAT WAS THE FIRST MATH CLASS YOU TOOK?>>ALLGEBRA 99. I DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD GRAPH A LINE AT THE TIME.>>DID YOU JUST KILL THE STUDENTS IN THAT CLASS? THEY JUST GOT CRUSHED BY YOU.>>I CAME IN WITH ALL OF THESE DRAWINGS, AND I WAS EXPLAINING TO MY TEACHER THAT CIRCLES DON’T EXIST AND ALL OF THESE OTHER CONCEPTS. AND SHE WAS CONFUSED AT FIRST.>>POOR TEACHER.>>YES. BUT ONCE I GOT TO CALCULUS, THEN WE REALIZED IT WAS THE SAME THING. IT WAS LITERALLY IDENTICAL. I WAS DOING INTEGRALS WITH TRIANGLES INSTEAD OF WITH RECTANGLES.>>I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANY OF THAT. BUT I GET THAT YOU BLEW DOORS IN CALCULUS. OKAY. SO YOU ACE ALL OF THESE CLASSES EASILY.>>RIGHT.>>AND THEN YOU’RE LIKE — AT THIS POINT, ARE YOU LIKE, SOMETHING HAPPENED DURING THE ACCIDENT.>>ABSOLUTELY.>>OKAY.>>SO ONE DAY I WAS WATCHING TV. I KIND OF BECAME A HERMIT FOR ABOUT THREE I CAN-AND-A-HALF YE AFTER THIS. I WENT FROM THIS WILD PARTIER, TO LITERALLY LOCKING MYSELF IN MY HOUSE BECAUSE SOME OCD AND OTHER BAD THINGS CAME AT THE SAME TIME.>>SO IT WASN’T ALL RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS.>>THERE WAS THIS DARK TIME, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, I WAS HAVING THIS AWAKENING MATHEMATICALLY, SO IT WAS BEAUTIFUL AND KIND OF SAD AT THE SAME TIME. BUT WHEN THAT PHYSICIST TOLD ME TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL, I WENT TO SCHOOL AND I MET MY WIFE. AND EVERYTHING, YOU KNOW, FROM THAT POINT –>>AWW.>>CHANGED FOR THE BETTER. GOT ME BACK OUT INTO THE WORLD. [ APPLAUSE ] YOU KNOW WHAT, LOVE — EVEN IF YOU GOT THE BIG BRAIN, LOVE IS ALWAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.>>ABSOLUTELY.>>SO YOU — WE PICKED UP IN THE PIECE WHERE YOU FIGURE OUT, OKAY, I’M GOING TO CONTACT DR. TREFFORD. HE FLEW TO FINLAND, AND THEY DID A STUDY ON HIS BRAIN,>>>WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. WE ARE TALKING TODAY ABOUT THE HIDDEN POWER OF THE HUMAN BRAIN. AND HERE WITH US IS JASON PADGETT. HE WAS ATTACKED OUTSIDE OF A BAR AT AGE 32. SUFFERED A BRAIN INJURY. AND AS PART OF HIS RECOVERY, DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD BECOME OR PERHAPS ALWAYS WAS A MATH GENIUS. AND YOU GO TO FINLAND TO FIGURE OUT — IS THAT — DR. TREFFORD SAID FINLAND WAS THE PLACE TO STUDY YOUR LANE?>>I DIDN’T HAVE INSURANCE AT THE TIME, SO I WAS ABLE TO GO TO FINLAND TO GET FUNCTIONAL MRIs DONE FOR FREE.>>THAT IS A WHOLE OTHER SEGMENT WE COULD DO.>>YES.>>SO WHAT DID THEY FIND?>>FUNCTIONAL MRIs MAP THOUGHT SO THEY FOUND I HAD A CONSCIOUS ACCESS TO PARTS OF THE BRAIN WE NORMALLY DON’T HAVE CONSCIOUS ACCESS TO. BASICALLY, REWIRED ITSELF. THE BRAIN HAS MORE PLASTICITY THAN APPARENTLY WAS BELIEVED BEFORE. AND IT MAKES NEW CONNECTIONS, DEPENDING ON WHERE THOSE CONNECTIONS ARE MADE, YOU CAN ACTUALLY HAVE A GIFT. SOME BAD THINGS THAT COME, BUT YOU CAN ALSO HAVE A GIFT, AND LUCKILY, FOR ME, THIS GIFT IN MATH CAME WITH IT.>>THEY COULD FIGURE OALL OF THT OUT BY SEEING WHAT SYNAPSES WERE FIRING AND LOBES THAT ARE NORMALLY DORMANT WERE NOT FOR YOU.>>SO, LIKE, IF YOU’RE WRITING, THE PART OF YOUR BRAIN THAT CONTROLS WRITING IS USING MORE OXYGEN, BECAUSE IT’S WORKING. AND IT SEES WHERE YOUR BRAIN IS USING OXYGEN AND HOW MUCH. SO WHEN YOU’RE IN THERE WRITING, IT SAYS, OH, THAT CONTROLS WRITING. SO THEY PUT ME IN THERE, HAD ME DO MATH AND WATCHED WHAT PART OF MY BRAIN WORKS SO THEY COULD SEE WHAT AREAS ARE CONTROLLING MATH.>>SO HOW GIFTED ARE YOU?>>YOU KNOW, IT DEPENDS. SOMETIMES I’M WAY AHEAD. BECAUSE I CAN VISUALIZE IT. BUT EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, WHEN WE DID DERIVATIVES IN CALCULUS, EVERYBODY GOT IT BEFORE ME. I THOUGHT, SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME. THEN I REALIZED IT WAS TWO BEAMS OF LIGHT MOVING RELATIVE TO EACH OTHER AND THEN I WAS AHEAD OF EVERYBODY ELSE.>>WOW. [ LAUGHTER ]>>BUT UNTIL I SEE IT — THE RIGHT WAY, THE WAY THE UNIVERSE SEES IT, I DON’T GET IT. AND THAT’S MY QUESTION IS, LIKE — WE CAN GRAPH X SQUARED, BUT HOW DOES THE UNIVERSE KNOW WHAT X SCAQUARED IS.>>AGAIN, TOO DEEP. YOU’VE LOST ME. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS AUDIENCE, ARE YOU SEEING FRACTALS?>>ABSOLUTELY. AND WHEN SOMEBODY MOVES, IT’S LIKE SEEING PICTURE FRAMES, AND THE FASTER THEY MOVE, IF THEY START TO ACCELERATE, THE PICTURE FRAMES GET FARTHER APART OR CLOSER TOGETHER. AND THE RATE IN WHICH THEY CHANGE RELATIVE TO LIGHT IS HOW FAST IT’S MOVING.>>DOES IT TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT LIFE?>>THAT’S THE FUNNIEST PART ABOUT IT. I LOVE THE IF I HAVE SOME CALIFORNIA SIDE OF WHERE THIS GOES. I WANT TO KNOW HOW THINGS GOT HERE, WHERE THINGS ARE GOING, WHY THEY WORK THE WAY THEY DO. WHAT ARE WE ALL CAPABLE OF? I KNOW WE ARE ALL DOING CALCULUS CONSTANTLY. BECAUSE YOU CAN’T WALK, YOU CAN’T CATCH A BALL — IF I THROW YOU A BALL AND YOU CATCH IT, YOU HAD TO CALCULATE THE GRAVITATIONAL FIELD, THE TIME LAG FROM THE BRAIN SIGNAL TO YOUR HAND TO CATCH IT. SO WE’RE DOING ALL OF THIS MATH, IT’S JUST ALL IN THE BACKGROUND, BECAUSE IF WE HAD TO CRUNCH IT AS AN EQUATION, IT WOULD TAKE TOO LONG AND WE CAN’T CATCH THE BALL.>>IS THIS THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY? SOMEHOW WE HAVE GREATER ACCESS TO OUR OWN MINDS AND BECOME, YOU KNOW, THESE INCREDIBLE HUMAN COMPUTERS THAT CAN DO SO MUCH MORE THAN WE CAN DO RIGHT NOW?>>I THINK IT IS. I REALLY THINK IT IS. BECAUSE IT’S FOR SURE IN EVERYBODY, AND THERE IS SO MUCH RESEARCH IN THIS RIGHT NOW THAT POTENTIALLY IN THE NEXT 20, 30 YEARS, YOU’RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET ALL SORTS OF UPGRADES.>>WHAT — CAN YOU — LIKE, CAN YOU GO TO VEGAS WITH THIS? [ LAUGHTER ] [ APPLAUSE ] I ACTUALLY DID GET STUCK IN VEGAS ONCE.>>NO WAY.>>YEAH. AND I PLAYED THIS ONE GAME CALLED CRAPS. AND I WAS ABLE TO — I DIDN’T BEAT THE SYSTEM. I FOUND A WAY — THEY GAVE YOU COMPS BASED ON YOUR AVERAGE BET. AND YOU COULD BET TO LOSE AND YOU COULD BET TO WIN. AND I SAID, WHAT DOES THAT MATTER? AND THEY SAID, WELL, YOUR AVERAGE BET, PLUS HOW LONG YOU STAY HERE IS HOW MUCH COMPS YOU GET AND SO I BET A THOUSAND TO LOSE AND A THOUSAND TO WIN AND SO I WOULD ALWAYS BREAK EVEN. BUT I HAD A $2,000 AVERAGE BET. AND I PLAYED FOR EIGHT HOURS AND I GOT A MONTH’S WORTH OF FREE HOTEL STAYS.>>OH, MY GOSH! [ APPLAUSE ] SO NOW WHAT? YOU’RE GOING TO BE BARRED. YOU’RE GOING TO BE LIKE RAINMAN.>>YEAH.>>SO NOW WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR LIFE?>>WHAT I’M REALLY INTERESTED IN, I GOT INTO DOING STOCKS. AND LOOKING AT FRACTAL ALGORITHMS IN THE CHARTS. AND I’M GOING TO BE TAKING MY SERIES 57 TEST SO I CAN START TRADING FOR OTHER PEOPLE, BECAUSE I’VE BEEN AVERAGING 31% APR.>>YOU’RE HIRED! CAN YOU IMAGINE HAVING HIM AS YOUR MONEY MANAGER? [ APPLAUSE ] WHO CAN SEE THE STOCK MARKET IN THE SPECIAL WAY? .>>IT’S BEAUTIFUL.>>I LOVE THIS STORY. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING IT WITH US. ALL THE BEST TO YOU AND YOUR WIFE AND YOUR GIRLS, YOUR KIDS. THANK YOU,