Kim Peek

When Kim Peek was 9 months old, doctors pronounced him so mentally retarded that he would never walk or talk. One physician suggested he be institutionalized; another later recommended a lobotomy. Peek, who died of a heart attack Dec. 19 at 58, was indeed riven by disabilities throughout his life. Born without a corpus callosum--the nerve tissue that connects the brain's hemispheres--he never learned to brush his hair or button his shirt without help.

But buried beneath these afflictions was a mighty intellect unique in the world. Peek was a so-called megasavant, a man with such dazzling recall that he seemed...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!