Are We All Inherently Creative?

By: Jenna Savage

Some people are more creative than others. For instance, playing the piano may come easily to some – especially those who learned how to play early on in life – but for others, learning music can present a challenge. It as though creativity varies from person to person, with some people having all of the luck. But that may not be the case, according to a recent Science Omega article. In an effort to learn more about human creativity and intellectualism the article explores acquired savant syndrome and acquired synesthesia, two conditions that sometimes result from traumatic brain injuries. It turns out that these conditions may actually benefit people and their creative pursuits, which in turn raises the question – do we all have the innate ability to experience synesthesia or acquire savant abilities?

Affiliated with the University of Missouri at St. Louis, the St. Louis Synesthesia Lab has conducted research on a variety of people who experience synesthesia. Synesthesia is when stimulation of sense or cognitive process gives way to the stimulation of another. The phenomenon is experienced in different ways, with some people seeing colors in association to numbers or letters, and other people feeling a sensation just by witnessing someone else feeling that sensation – like touch or pain. While some people seem to experience synesthesia from birth onward, there are cases where people acquire synesthesia after suffering blows to the head, reports the article.

As with syesthesia, savant syndrome can result from head injuries as well. Savant syndrome is typically a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes impressive talents. However, in the cases of traumatic brain injuries that lead to savant syndrome, individuals who did not have special talents or skills before the injury find themselves with seemingly inexplicable talents after the injury. To illustrate this point, the article presents the story of Derek Amato, who dove into a pool and hit his head. Though he had no musical background, when he woke up after the event, he found that he could play the piano on a professional level.

Though these instances of acquired synesthesia and acquired savant syndrome are rare, they have caused researchers and experts to wonder whether or not all human beings have the ability to experience synesthesia or unlock innate talents. Is it possible that we are all born with synesthesia, but we “unlearn” it as we grow older? Or is it that those abilities are just locked away?

As of right now, there are no answers to those questions, but this is an avenue of research that may lead experts to develop ways to promote creativity and intellectual pursuits. Perhaps after more research, we can discover a way to unlock the talents found among prodigies.