Savant syndrome and prime numbers
Languages of publication
Oliver Sacks (1985) reported that a pair of autistic twins had extraordinary number abilities and that they spontaneously generated huge prime numbers. Such abilities could contradict our understanding of human abilities. Sacks' report attracted widespread attention, and several researchers speculated theoretically. Unfortunately, most of the explanations in the literature are wrong. Here a correct explanation on prime number identification is provided. Fermat's little theorem is implemented in spreadsheet. Also, twenty years after the report, questionable aspects were found in it. Extreme abilities became dubious. One possibility for the less extreme abilities is incomplete trial division.
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- Dehaene, S. (2001). Author's Response: Is Number Sense a Patchwork?Mind & Language, 16, 89-100.
- Hamblin, D. J. (1966). They are idiot savants: wizards of the calendar.LIFE, 60, 106-8.
- Hermelin B., & O'Connor N. (1990). Factors and primes: A specific numerical ability.Psychological Medicine, 20, 163-169.
- Howe, M., and Smith, J. (1988). Calendar calculating in ‘idiot savants’: How do they do it?British Journal of Psychology, 79, 371-386.
- Ramachandran, V. S., & Blakeslee, S. (1998).Phantoms in the brain. New York: William Morrow.
- Sacks, O. (1985).The man who mistook his wife for a hat. London: Duckworth.
- Snyder, A. (2007). Comment on priming skills of autistic twins and Yamaguchi (2007).Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
- Stewart, I. (1975).Concepts of modern mathematics. New York: Harmondsworth.
- Welling, H. (1994). Prime number identification in idiot savants: Can they calculate them?Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorder, 24, 199-207.
- White, P. A. (1988). The structured representation of information in long-term memory: A possible explanation for the accomplishments of "idiots savants".New Ideas in Psychology, 6, 3-14.
- Yamaguchi, M. (2005). Comments on the Misuse of Terminology in Savant Research: It is not the Sieve of Eratosthenes.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35.
- Yamaguchi, M. (2007a). Questionable aspects of Oliver Sacks' report.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
- Yamaguchi, M. (2007b). Author response.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
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