Nature.com reports that the remarkable Kim Peek, inspiration for Dustin Hoffman’s character in the 1988 film Rain Main, has passed away.
Despite clear and disabling difficulties in day-to-day living, Peek accumulated an encyclopaedic knowledge of numerous subjects areas, could read two pages of a book at once and could instantly calculate the day of the week for any given date.
For many years Peek was thought to have autism, but scans completed in 1988 by neuroscientist Daniel Christensen and colleagues indicated that there were significant brain abnormalities, most strikingly a malformed cerebellum and an absence of the corpus callosum – the bundle of fibres that connect the two hemispheres of the brain.
Among other findings, this suggested that the most likely diagnosis was a genetic condition called FG syndrome.
Perhaps the best profile of Peek, co-written by Christensen, appeared in Scientific American [pdf] which captured both the man himself and discussed the science behind his remarkable abilities.
He was also the subject of numerous documentaries and you can view one of the best of them, Kim Peek – The Real Rain Man, on YouTube.
UPDATE: SciAm have made their article on Kim Peek freely available on their website as a tribute.
Link to announcement from Nature.com.
pdf of excellent SciAm article ‘Inside the mind of a savant’.
Link to documentary Kim Peek – The Real Rain Man.