A personal recollection.
I've been reading more stories recently on another interesting aspect of brain injuries that has triggered some memories and thought for me. It started when I was listening to a story last week on NPR about some people who mysteriously became musical geniuses after receiving a traumatic brain injury (I think it was about music savant syndrome).
I always wondered about a brain injury that happened to me as a child which may have turned me into the autodidact that I've become. No idea how or why I started being a self-learner when I was a child – I taught myself how to paint and draw and could learn just about anything I put my mind to learning – including languages – even before I was a teenager.
The one memory I recall was a very bad brain injury when I was around 8. Still remember that day clearly: Queen Elizabeth was doing a Royal visit to Halifax (1959 I think) and our parents took us down to the corner of our street to watch her go by in a parade (doing that Queen wave…). I was sitting on a 2-foot high lawn fence and I remember flipping backwards and smacking the back of my head full force on the concrete sidewalk! I think they walked me home when that happened and sure don't remember much else after that.
My parents never did anything about it (after all, this was the 50's) and no one knew anything about brain injuries back then anyway. By the time I was in Grade 4 (I was 9), I was learning other languages and drawing up a storm! Dad always reminded me that no one in our family ever had those skills before! And in Grade 5, I was given another IQ test and got approved to skip Grade 6 and go straight to Junior High. But Dad decided to hold me back (much to my lifelong regret!).
This article from the Feb 2013 Popular Science is one of the best summaries I've found on this strange phenomenon.