Transcript for Colorado Rancher Become Accidental Genius After Brain Injury
You're about to meet a woman who is truly one of a kind. That is because a near deadly accident turn her otherwise ordinary mind into an extraordinary one. ABC's reporter tells us what it is like to have your senses scrambled in a nearly super human brain. Probabilities and what are disabilities? Leigh Erceg is unlike anyone you'll probably ever meet. So buckle up for a ride like none other into the mind of an accidental genius. You have a linear line with what is. In some theories. She is also an artist. What is the deepest? And a poet. Within my memories I walk to the fourth of my mine. Still I see nothing. The way she sees the world is unlike anything you can imagine. And it all happened because of an accident, making her the only known woman in the world with something called acquired savant syndrome. Scribbled as vastly enhanced cognitive ability in areas such as art and math and acquired savant syndrome is when you're not born with it, like leaving. We're at split rock ranch. It was on this ranch in Colorado, a place she no longer remembers, where her life changed forever. In 2009 Leigh the ranch manage here could care less about formulas was feeding chickens. Where was it? Down there. She fell into the ravine suffering catastrophic spine and brain injuries. I don't know what type of fall it was but it must have been pretty traumatic. Do you remember being here at all? No, not at all. I remember them saying Leigh, keep breathing. You do remember. I remember it was a sheriff. And he said Leigh, keep breathing. Doctors were unsure she would ever walk again. After treating her initial brain trauma, she seemed to be making a full recovery and no one noticed it was actually her brain that suffered the most severe damage. But in a very unique way. Leigh had no memory of her old life when she was a multisport athlete who loved animals, not math or art. Her childhood gone. Her mother, a total stranger. Leigh relies on her best friend since fifth grade, amber. You guys are really close. To help her understand who she used to be. Jackie is my mother. Were you guys close? I don't know. She was initially misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder in part because she lost the ability to feel emotion. What doctors describe as flat effect. Leigh was a total extra vert. It is not a bad different. Just who she is now. In addition to her savant syndrome, she also acquired since these. If I turn on your music, you're seeing colors. If I ask you to look at nature, you said you're hearing or seeing sound. So you hear images and you see sound. Right. That's hard to fathom. I'm going to turn it up. And then I want to know what colors you hear. Are you ready? Okay. ? Black, blue, Orange and then a yellow. Black, blue, Orange and then a yellow. Yeah. Now she has a home filled with mathematical equations and art. Her interpretations of how she sees the world. What's running through your mine? The dimensions of the house. The dimensions of this house? Yes. This is what it represents. The occupancy of a linear line, circulations. Help me understand that. You see things differently than we do. Yes. I see just sort of a plain room with a couple of windows. Some stairs. Stairs are concept theories, divine. The strange new talents has left her lonely at times and desperate to understand what has happened to her. If what she is seeing in her mine is real. Along with her childhood friend amber, she made the journey to the university of Miami where neuroscientist britt brogaard rigorously tested her brain. You want some objective evidence that what she is experiencing was real. After the first test, it started to become clear how differently she sees the world. Details are everything. Check this out. Can you see a difference between these two images? Yep. Leigh can do it in a snap. We started to understand why she draws things the way she does. If you ask most people to draw a house or a car, they'll start with the outline and then fill in the details like the windows, doors and wheels. But Leigh, she starts with those details, the windows, the doors, the wheels and then builds out. So that's an example of how she is attending to details before she said is attending to the whole. Remember how lee said she hears colors and sees sounds? The doctor says that's real too. About half of the letters of the alphabet and half of the Numbers, she has specific colors associated with them. It is kind of a heavy question. Do you think the person you were is the person you were supposed to be or is the person you are now really who you are? I don't know. I can't remember, or I don't remember the last person. But Leigh has embraced her new identity and her new view of the world as colors and number, a beautiful mind she is just beginning to understand. "Nightline" in Mabel, Colorado.
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