The Mind of a Prodigy

The following article highlights the fascinating variables that contribute to the “prodigy phenomenon.”  Interestingly, there are a host of factors that contribute to an individual demonstrating a specific talent,  including the existence of a skill matched well to the prodigy’s interests, availability of the domain of interest in the prodigy’s geographical region, overall healthy social/emotional functioning, family variables (e.g., birth order, gender), education and preparation, cultural support, recognition of achievement in the particular skill, access to training opportunities, material support from family members, at least one parent committed to the prodigy’s development, family traditions that support the prodigy’s development, and historical events and trends.

Excerpt from article:


“Therefore, it is possible that prodigies are born with genetic variants that relate to various tendencies, including an attentional focus on details and a brain-network wiring that supports an enhanced encoding of new memories. This could explain why prodigies frequently report that they were attracted early on to domains that deal with systems, and why many also display – even in infancy- an enhanced ability to maintain mental representations, with the working memory of prodigies most enhanced for the symbol systems that interest them the most, such as mathematical or linguistic stimuli.


After just a few years of obsessive focus, prodigies build up rich long-term working memory structures that allow them to assimilate information in their heads. In sum, child prodigies rapidly develop brain structures that make them even more prepared to learn new information within their domain.”


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