A neurology and vision researcher (and physicist) in Australia named Allan Snyder is developing a new theory about how Savants function, particularly Autistic Savants, who can begin manifesting their mad, Rainman skillz as early as 18 months [although by age 5-6 is more typical].
According to early studies, "abnormally low blood flow or low metabolic activity in the [brain's] left temporal lobe" is associated with Savant-like talents like instant, complex multiplication, calendar calculating--and horse drawing. This Feb. 2002 article from Discover includes the above picture of a horse and rider drawn by a 3-year-old girl. Do they really only draw horses??
Anyway, the idea is that these neural processing functions are somehow innate in everyone, and are just masked ormodulated in non-Autistic Savant people. With a little help, Snyder thinks, perhaps we can all learn to tap into these sublimated Savantisms, and have our kids do our taxes for us in like 90 seconds.
But sit tight. Unless you're planning on undergoing "transcranial magnetic stimulation"--which looks to involve placing a magnet-filled plunger on your head and doing sudoku--there's nothing to do yet. Snyder hopes there'll be marketable technology available within about 5,259,488 minutes. But wait, this article is from Feb. 2002. Now it's only 3,111,864 minutes away!
The Inner Savant [discover.com via boingboing]