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Inside the Brains of Child Prodigies

For every prodigy, there's a profile: Distinct brain abilities help to make astounding performance possible. Read More

If you think about it it

If you think about it it makes perfect sense that the artists' visual spatial intelligence would be different. Both music and maths have specific parameters, requirements and patterns - whereas art doesn't. The musician and mathematician have acquired a more 'specific' way of thinking whereas the artist will be more abstract - they're not confined by a particular set of rules and regulations as to how things 'should' match and additionally they may be able to 'see' many ways in which things 'could' match. It's a shame that they're wasn't a test done for emotional intelligence because I think that that would have been very revealing. In addition it would be interesting to know more about the family backgrounds - what sort of nurture does a child receive to become a prodigy and what appears to be the child's nature. It's my feeling that all children have the potential to be geniuses in their own differing and unique ways, however the nurture they receive generally tends to suppress the genius within in order to 'mould' a child to be more 'normal' or 'ordinary'.

Thanks, Helen

I absolutely agree that my biggest takeaway from this article is the desire to know more! I'd love to see tests other than the Stanford-Binet, including maybe tests of problem solving, creativity or practical intelligence (of course, there's overlap w IQ). And exploring the question of nature and nurture in child prodigies is fascinating -- I'm sure there must be a role for both? Maybe I'll poke around in coming weeks and see if I can't scare up some more interesting prodigy research (or can anyone out there point me?) Thanks!

Family history - a reference

In 2006, Goertzel et al wrote a well-received book entitled "Cradles of Eminence: Childhoods of More Than 700 Famous Men and Women". This book profiles many highly gifted individuals and the influential (and not always positive) childhoods.

There are likely other references that exist which try to help define how nurture work together with nature. If I have time I'll try to post.

Family history - addendum

Actually the first edition of the book mentioned above came out in the 1960's.

Clarification needed

After reading your article, I am rather puzzled as to your definition of "art" prodigy.

Accurate perception of 3-D objects and projecting them onto paper (2-D) is a complex process, which involves a good amount of visual-spatial thinking.

A child who could draw at the level of Picasso when he was a kid is definitely an art prodigy. I know a few myself.

If you are merely referring to kids who are very creative, but if they cannot draw objects in their proportion and with perspective by age 10, then I am afraid that's not really prodigy material in terms of visual arts.

Would you mind provide us readers some examples of work done by the "art" prodigies referred to in your article?


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Garth Sundem is the author of the books Brain Trust, Brain Candy, and The Geeks' Guide to World Domination.


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