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What Makes Giftedness?

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: What are the causes of mentally gifted child?

A: Although this only a one line question, a whole essay can be written just on this question alone! This is a "nature" vs "nurture" question.

As a matter of fact, it has been widely agreed that both genetics and environment play a role in determining giftedness, but their relative importance is still being debated. Some believe that giftedness may be due to some innate process independent which is independent from the environmental effects. This means that regardless of where the child is raised, a gifted child will demonstrate the gifts at some point. For example, there are accounts of children with extraordinary gifts that could have an innate basis, such as the musically gifted. No particular environment appears to have stimulated the gift.

This is linked to the biological claim such as the brain or a chromosome that people believe scientists have yet to find. Psychologically, giftedness is believed to be an gift that has a genetic origin and is at least partly innate which may not be clear at an early stage but rather an inclination that the child may possess the gift.

Studies have indicated that individuals with extremely high mathematical abilities have frontal lobes of the brain which are more differentiated compared to average students. Neuropsychological studies claim that in information processing, gifted individuals have enhanced brain activity localized in the right hemisphere. This does show to a certain extent that the physical characteristics of the brain may be associated to an innate process in which certain people obtain high levels of gifts and capabilities in different areas.

Many studies have proved that demonstrated giftedness is subjected to biological (nature) and sociological (nurture) factors. These are again all linked to several other external factors outside of the child's physiological makeup. In short, to be considered gifted, a child need to have the right biological make up (genes, brain structure) and environment (education, exposure, diet, emotional security, etc.) to enhance and bring out the gifts.


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