Colorado rancher becomes a genius after falling down ravine

'Leigh is the only woman in the world who has acquired savant syndrome and synesthesia following brain injury'

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The Independent US

A former rancher has developed enhanced cognitive ability following a brain injury and is now an artist and poet who "hears" colour and "sees" sound.

Leigh Erceq, from northwest Colorado, was diagnosed with Savant Syndrome after falling into a ravine and suffering spine and brain injuries.

She remembers nothing of her life before the accident, not even the name of her mother, but since her fall she has developed new capabilities.

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The 47-year-old is alleged to have been a ‘tomboy’ NASCAR fan with no interest in the arts or mathematics, prior to the accident.

She is now said to "see" sound and "hear" colours when she listens to music and enjoys tackling mathematical equations, according to ABC News Nightline.

Acquired Savant Syndrome is rare; the condition gives a person 'vastly enhanced cognitive ability', which they are not born with.

She also now experiences synaesthesia – the mixing of the senses - and cannot feel emotion, having been described as a friend as a 'complete extrovert' prior to the incident.

"Leigh is the only woman in the world who has acquired Savant Syndrome and synesthesia following brain injury that I know of," said Dr Brit Brogaard at the University of Miami, who has run a series of tests on her.

 

Dr Brogaard has also confirmed that Ms Erceq interprets the world in an unusual way:

"Most people, if you ask them to draw a house or a car, they will start with the outline of the car or house, and they will fill in the windows and door, and the wheels," Brogaard said.

"When you ask Leigh to draw something, she will start with the details. She will start with the windows or the wheels – the details, and fill out that way. She is attending to details before she is attending to the whole," he added.

Following her recovery, Ms Erceq has relied on her best friend, Amber Anastasio to help fill in the gaps in her memory and help her navigate the world without a sense of emotion.

When asked abut the accident, Ms Erceq said: "I don’t know what type of fall it was but it must have been pretty dramatic."

"I just remember them saying ‘Leigh, keep breathing.’"

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