What makes a child prodigy? © Getty Images

What makes a child prodigy?

A child genius is born with brains, but there might be more than grey matter behind their incredible intelligence.

Asked by: Bill Steiner, USA

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Prodigies are defined by their childhood ability to perform at adult professional levels in a particular area. Some experts argue that prodigies benefit from years of intense, early practice, usually encouraged by ambitious parents.

Others highlight prodigies’ innate abilities: for example, a 2014 study assessed 18 child prodigies and found that what they all had in common was a heightened attention to detail and exceptional working memory (the ability to store and process information over short time periods).

Prodigiousness seems to arise from a combination of this cognitive profile with what psychologist Ellen Winner describes as a “rage to master” their craft.


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