Jason D. Padgett is an American artist diagnosed with acquired savant syndrome. He was born in 1970 in Anchorage, Alaska. As a young man, he dropped out of Tacoma Community College and worked as a salesman for his father’s futon company. On the night of September 13, 2002, Padgett was attacked and robbed by two men outside a karaoke bar. This attack is purported to have changed his brain activity.
On September 13, 2002, Padgett went out to a local karaoke bar with his friends in Tacoma, Washington. As he was leaving the bar, he was hit on the back of the head. He saw a white light, felt dizzy, fell down, and lost consciousness. As he came to and tried to stand up, he was punched and kicked by two men repeatedly.
At the Tacoma General Hospital, doctors diagnosed a bruised kidney and a concussion; Padgett was given medication and was sent home the same night. His alleged attackers were arrested and then released.
After the attack, Padgett felt off. He assumed it was an effect of the medication he was prescribed; but it was later found that, because of his traumatic brain injury, Padgett had signs of obsessive–compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. He also began viewing the world through a figurative lens of mathematical shapes.
The onset of OCD and PTSD happened immediately. He was engaged in obsessive–compulsive behaviors, such as avoiding germs. He would wash his hands 20 times in 30 minutes, trying to avoid touching something in the process that might be dirty. He avoided people by only leaving his home at night for food and hammering three layers of blankets over his windows to avoid sunlight. He would sleep for days and, on waking, try to go back to sleep. His personality had rapidly undergone a major shift, which would last for three years.
Immediately after the attack, Padgett also began seeing the world through a mathematical lens. Water now looked like tangent lines and light became rays made up of lines and spirals. Many of the images he began to see corresponded to geometry and physics concepts he had never studied, and he became a ‘mathematical prodigy’.   He began to draw the shapes he saw, which helped manage his OCD and PTSD. He contacted Wisconsin psychiatrist Dr. Darold Treffert, a world-recognized expert on savantism who eventually diagnosed Padgett with acquired savant syndrome. According to the New York Post, “Padgett is one of only 40 people in the world with “acquired savant syndrome,” a condition in which prodigious talents in math, art or music emerge in previously normal individuals following a brain injury or disease.”
Padgett was later invited to partake in a study at the University of Miami with Berit Brogaard, where fMRI machines and transcranial magnetic stimulations were used to understand how Padgett’s brain had been affected by the attack. The left side of his brain, the side that houses math abilities, was found to have greater activation than that of his right.
Padgett continued drawing. He would take his drawing pad everywhere he went and one day a man approached him asking about his drawings.
“I’m trying to describe the discrete structure of space time based on the Planck length and quantum black holes,” Padgett told him. It turned out the man was a physicist and recognized the high-level mathematics Padgett was drawing. He urged him to take a math class, which led Padgett to enroll in a community college."
Padgett returned to school where he learned the mathematical vocabulary to communicate what he was seeing and experiencing. While attending school, he met his now wife, Elena Padgett.
Padgett now views the attack and its effects as a gift. Since the attack, he began selling his artwork on his personal website portraying the shapes he sees, has written a book about the attack and life thereafter, and has given TEDx talks. Studio Sony picked up the rights to make a movie about his life.
Fifteen years after the attack, one of Padgett’s attackers, Brady Simmons, reached out and apologized to Padgett for the incident, which Padgett accepted.
In 2021, Padgett and his family moved to Carmel, Indiana after he wrote a program to determine a place to live.