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There are the examples of Orlando Serrell and Temple Grandin, who remember quite a lot, due to autism.

How do their brains compare to a standard brain?

See also: Partitions and Volume:

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A question that deals more with CPU can be found here: Theoretical limit to the use of mental faculty of the brain – draks ... Jun 25 '12 at 21:36
Just to clarify: (a) is this question about the two specific individuals you mention or about Savants in general? (b) is this question about any brain differences or just brain differences in memory related areas (c) or is it about behavioural measures of memory and only about brains to the extent that brains constrain memory? – Jeromy Anglim Jun 26 '12 at 0:26
@JeromyAnglim, a) Savants in general b) only memory related and c) I didn't get. – draks ... Jun 26 '12 at 6:17
Thanks for the info. The third point is about the importance you place on a neural explanation. For example, behavioural results might show simply that savants differ on psychometric tests of memory. Now of course at some level, we assume that test scores relate to something in the brain, but we have a choice. We can focus on what are the actual observed differences in functioning or we can focus on brain differences. It depends on your research question. – Jeromy Anglim Jun 26 '12 at 6:23
@JeromyAnglim focus on the brain differences, please. – draks ... Jun 26 '12 at 9:27
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I believe the answer lies in minicolumnar morphology in the neocortex. It's been shown that the minicolumns of autsitics and gifted individuals have narrower minicolumns, with greater spacing between each minicolumn. It's speculated that this creates an increased ability to distinguish percepts. Here is a paper on the topic:

Casanova MF, Switala AE, Trippe J, & Fitzgerald M. (2007) Comparative minicolumnar morphometry of three distinguished scientists. Autism 11(6):557-69.

I recommend reading through more of Casanova's work on the topic if you're interested.

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+1 Thanks for your answer. – draks ... Jun 27 '12 at 10:11

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