Who You Are is an Interactive Process
The old notion of giftedness, the notion that we are born with a certain quantity of intelligence or a quantity of talent really isn’t there.
We study savants - you know, Rainman and people like that - and we think there’s obviously evidence of innate gifts because these guys are obviously born with different sorts of brains. They’re born with these gifts that enable them to remember every calendar date going back to the year 1200 or whatever.
When you actually look at what is going on yes, these people are born with birth defects if that is what you want to call them. Their brains are certainly wired differently. There is no question about that, but it turns out that the actual skills that they acquire then come after that and that we can actually manipulate our own brains.
The word is plasticity. Everyone has heard the term plasticity. There is a difference in quantity between what these savants are born with and what we can do with our own brains. There isn’t really a qualitative difference. We can alter our own brains but we don’t actually develop the skills to do what the guy in Rainman did or these other amazing savants do. Those differences are already in place. It’s the process of developing these skills, not just being born with the skill or the gift.
I'm trying to help people understand that the old notion of innate, the old notion of giftedness, the notion that we are born with a certain quantity of intelligence or a quantity of talent really isn’t there. We’re all born with differences, no question about that. We have genetic differences, but how those genetic differences actually lead to differences in traits - that’s a dynamic process that we are all very much involved with on the family level, as parents, as kids ourselves, culturally, in terms of nutrition and the environment. Everything we do and everything we are is an ongoing interactive process, which affects how those genes are then going to be subsequently going to be turned into the traits that work for us and against us.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.
- Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
- The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
- Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, explains his plan for success.
- Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for Amazon.com from the start.
- He was inspired by a statistic he learned while working at a hedge fund: In the '90s, web usage was growing at 2,300% a year.
- Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.
- Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
- A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
- The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.