Scientists Study the Brain of Blind Piano Prodigy

Scientists were inspired by the remarkable story of a blind piano prodigy and are studying his brain to better understand the source of his talent. Matthew Whitaker was born with complications and went through eleven surgeries before his second birthday, overcoming the 50% chance of survival the doctors gave him. On top of that, he was born blind.

Matthew Whitaker Steve Wonder
Scientists Study the Brain of Blind Piano Prodigy

A Person with an Extraordinary Gift

Despite the grim odds he was facing, Matthew survived his predicament and started exhibiting an extraordinary gift. He could play the piano even before he learned to walk. When he was three-years-old, he was playing piano compositions for two hands and writing new songs without ever being thought. Today, the prodigy from Hackensack, New Jersey, can play anything he hears, be it Beyonce or Antonin Dvorak, and has a repertoire that is both immense and diverse.

Matthew started taking piano lessons when he was five years old, becoming the youngest person in his school. After a recital, he impressed his teacher by playing the opening of a Dvorak quintet she played the night before. Soon after hearing it, Whitaker managed to play this quite difficult piece of music by ear. He did all five parts, which are usually performed by a quintet.

Matthew Whitaker Prodigy
Scientists Study the Brain of Blind Piano Prodigy

The Prodigy’s Brain Adapted To Better Perceive Music

Now at the age of eighteen, Whitaker has become somewhat of a star, headlining prestigious venues, touring around the world, and winning a number of music awards. The incredible talent of Matthew soon caught the attention of Dr. Charles Limb, who is both a neurologist and a fellow musician. Dr. Limb was fascinated by the phenomenon that was Whitaker’s brain, so he got the permission of the musician and his family to put him through some MRI exams while listening to music and playing on a keyboard.

Dr. Limb’s research showed that Whitaker’s brain had repurposed its visual cortex to build new neurological pathways. Just listening to his favorite bands made Matthew’s entire visual cortex light up.

The doctor believes that the brain is taking the tissue that’s not stimulated by sight and using it to perceive music, which rewires it and gives the young boy this incredible ability. What a magical thing to understand!

Man Receives A Generous Payout After Paying For A Woman’s Groceries

Sometimes the smallest act of kindness can have the greatest payoff. Robert Navarro had no intention of being rewarded when he offered a stranger money to cover the rest of her groceries. However, not content with letting the man’s goodwill go unacknowledged, that stranger found a way to return the favor in spades with a generous payout.

Low On Funds

Getting to the checkout at a grocery store and discovering that you don’t have enough money is a terrible feeling. It certainly was for Delmaretta Stipp, who had that experience at Walmart recently. She needed to pay $151 for her shopping, but she could only find $138 in her wallet. Feeling the pressure of holding people up while trying to somehow find more money, Stipp decided not to purchase some of her groceries. However, that was when a stranger came forward and offered to cover the $13 she owed.

Happy To Help

Navarro, a 36-year-old security officer, was the one who wanted to help. Stipp had never met the man before in her life, nor did she expect him to give her any money. However, he was more than happy to pay the extra $13 because she reminded him of his late mother. The woman was so grateful to Navarro that she decided to share his kindness with the local news station. That was when the security officer got the surprise of his life.

Here’s Your Reward

Ryan Wolf of Fox San Antonio organized a reunion between Stipp and Navarro. The latter thought he was there to receive a coffee and a thank you. Instead, Wolf gave the man $1,000 as a reward for his selfless actions. Navarro had only given Stipp $13, but because of that act of kindness, he was now one grand richer.

While Navarro was obviously thrilled with his generous payout, he didn’t help Stipp for the money. Being there for someone in need was a reward in itself.