Monday, June 29, 2015

#LTW: The #Gifted Human Brain - It's all Biology


Welcome back to Lighting the Way. Last week we learned some gifted children are misdiagnosed because they do not exhibit characteristics that are often believed to be a part a gifted person's personality nor intellect. The main problem when trying to define who is gifted and who is not is that not all gifted exhibit the same quirks. Much of what we know today about the gifted population has been learned through brain research. 


Inside the Gifted Mind

The gifted mind is a very complex organ that has intrigued scholars throughout history. Mrazik and Dombrowski (2010) stated through much of history, scholars had believed a person’s intellectual ability was determined by their brain size. Educators and researchers have learned much about how the gifted brain works through current brain research.

The Cerebral Cortex

NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD (Asher, 2006) found IQ is not linked to the size of a person’s brain but how fast the cerebral cortex develops. The cerebral cortex is the outer layer of a human brain that contains folded grey matter. The folded grey matter can be divided into four functional parts known as the temporal, frontal, occipital and parietal lobes. Zerhouni (Asher, 2006) found the cerebral cortex of students with superior IQ’s (130 and above) thickens more rapidly than their non-gifted peers. The relationship between a student’s IQ and the rapidly growing cerebral cortex varies with age, especially in the prefrontal cortex.

Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the cerebral cortex that covers the frontal lobe, which is located directly behind the forehead. Bruning, Shaw & Norby (2011) stated the frontal lobe is associated with executive regulation of learning, regulations of emotions and long-term memory functions. Zerhouni (Asher, 2006) found students with superior IQ’s may have prolonged thickening in the prefrontal cortex at an early age that allows for their early abstract reasoning, planning and other executive learning capabilities. Gifted children do not keep these abilities for long in their youth. Zerhouni (Asher, 2006) found gifted children’s cerebral cortex go through a thinning process that eliminates unused brain cells, neurons and any connections they could have made. Bruning, Shaw & Norby (2011) describe the brain’s process of discarding unused neurons as pruning. The pruning process continues in gifted children’s brains until the brain becomes more efficient during the teen years.

References
Asher, J. (2006) Cortex Matures Faster in Youth with Highest IQ. Retrieved from National Institute of Health website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2006/cortex-matures-faster-in-youth-with-highest-iq.shtml
Bruning, R. H., Schraw, G. J., & Norby, M. M. (2011). Cognitive psychology and instruction (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Butnik, S (May/June 2013). Understanding, Diagnosing and Coping with Slow Processing Speed. Retrieved from http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10782.aspx
Geake, J. (2009). The Brain at School: Educational Neuroscience in the Classroom. Retrieved from ttps://books.google.com/books?id=jwNFBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA83&lpg=PA83&dq=gifted+parietal&source=bl&ots=4WKKXCPmQP&sig=Fh0idjpigXrKyD5uo-Txm1T08BY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CFgQ6AEwCWoVChMIr-CgwbCQxgIVCBmSCh0cowJU#v=onepage&q=gifted%20parietal&f=false
Gross, G. (2013, October 21). Who is the gifted Child [Web log post]? Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-gail-gross/who-is-the-gifted-child_b_4119720.html
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012). Anatomy of the brain. Baltimore, MD: Author
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012). Connectivism learning theory. Baltimore MD: Author.
Monru, J. (2013). High-Ability Learning and Brain Processes:How Neuroscience can help us to understand how gifted and talented students learn and the implication for teaching. Paper presented a the Research Conference, Australia
Mrazik, M., & Dombrowski, S. C. (2010). The Neurobiological Foundations of Giftedness. Roeper Review, 32(4), 224-234. doi:10.1080/02783193.2010.508154
Sword, L. (2011). I think in pictures, you teach in words: The gifted visual-spatial learner. Tall Poppies Retrieved from http://www.giftedchildren.org.nz/national/article4.php
Treffinger, D (Ed.). (2003). Creativity and Giftedness. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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