Gifted Brain


Gifted individuals experience, process, and respond to the world in ways that are qualitatively different. There is no single definition of giftedness accepted by all professions, though it is usually measured in one of three ways: achievement, Intelligence Quotient, commonly called IQ, or talent.

However, with these accelerated cognitive abilities comes the possibility of asynchronous development, and/or uneven intellectual, physical, and emotional development. While a four year old might read at a sixth grade level, his emotional skills could resemble that of a two- or three-year old. Furthermore, it is postulated that the higher a child’s IQ, the more out of sync his or her development is likely to be. It is generally accepted that “intensity, sensitivity and over-excitability are primary characteristics of the highly gifted.”

The neuroanatomy of gifted individuals differs from that of the general population in six ways that play a critical role in their heightened experiences. Specifically, existing research indicates that gifted individuals have:

  1. Increased regional brain volumes.
  2. Greater connectivity across brain regions.
  3. Brains that operate more efficiently.
  4. Greater sensory sensitivity.
  5. Expanded brain areas dedicated to emotional intelligence.
  6. Expanded brain areas that respond more actively to challenges.

The regions with increased volume include the frontal lobes (complex decision making and hypotheses testing), temporal lobes (auditory processing and language interpretation), parietal lobes (taste, temperature, touch sensation), and occipital lobes (visual information).

Gifted brains also appear to be both more active and more efficient on a neuronal level. Research has shown gifted children to have increased cell production that in turn increases synaptic activity, adding up to more intense thought processes. The neurons in the brain of the gifted child seem to be bio-chemically more abundant and, as a result, the brain patterns that develop are able to process more complex thought.

The behavior of a gifted child is sometimes confused with attention disorders such as ADD and ADHD. Children with either disorder generally show an inability to concentrate for long periods of time, regardless of the task. In contrast, gifted children become immersed in a task when interested, focusing for long periods of time; however, they may become bored while waiting for other students to grasp concepts that they already understand. When not engaged, gifted children often develop negative patterns such as daydreaming, doodling, excessive talking, and failing grades.

Read more on Exquisite Minds to understand various aspects of Giftedness.