The gifted brain


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  • Gifted children typically score in the IQ range of 130 and above. We place students who test in the 120’s on a watch list for possible future testing. Students in the 140’s are considered to be moderately gifted, 150’s highly, 160’s exceptional. Anyone in the 150’s will probably need counseling throughout their entire lifetime. Only the top 2-5 percent of students are gifted. Children do not always view the label of giftedness as a good thing. Many children equate being gifted with many negative things. This is especially evident in the middle school setting. Sixth grade is the crucial year for gifted children. It is at this point that they decide internally whether or not they will share their giftedness with others or hide it to better “fit” in with society and it’s standards. Gagne believes that giftedness can be measured using IQ tests in order to evaluate a child’s creative and intellectual abilities. Sousa believes that giftedness is defined as being able to demonstrate an “exceptionally high level of performance in one or more areas of human endeavor.”
  • Usually due to peer pressure and predictability- they want the oppositeFeel that they have to give too much and that they are not in control of their gifts and what they do with themExpect to do more and do it better. In taking on too much, they are unable to complete their goals in order to meet their high standards. Less likely to take as many risks for fear of failure. They may completely shut out challenges, competitions, advanced courses, etc because they are afraid of what may happen if they do poorlyHigh expectations are placed on gifted children by parents, teachers, friends, peers, siblings, etc. They may tire quickly of the work it takes to become successfulLooking for quick solutions- these fast fixes are not always correct or successful. They may begin to withdraw if these mistakes are not met with support from peers and adults for fear of failing yet again.Often times, gifted students tend to take on an adult personality at an early age. They may have a difficult time finding out their real interests as well as finding others who can truly relate to them because they do not take the time to figure out who they really are.
  • FALSE- these children need just as much, if not more guidance in their educations in order to be successful in school. They need someone who is willing to challenge them and provide them with materials of their interest. They need someone to provide them with the correct level material in relation to the continuum of ease and challenge in their curriculum. False- Giftedness tends to be domain specific. Ex: Dual DiagnsosesFact- This has been indicated by a majority of studies. These children are however, more prone to isolation and lonliness and can become arrogant because they have few peers that can or will interact with them on their level. False- IQ tests can only measure a narrow range of ability. There is little evidence that certain types of giftedness requires exceptional IQ.
  • 5) Fact- recent studies have shown that when gifted students work together, they can achieve higher academic benefits versus working alone or in a heterogeneous group setting. 6) False-Giftedness results from genetics and hard work.7) Fact-Many people may believe that reading and writing go hand in hand, but research has shown that there is no direct relationship between the two and development at a young age. 8) You decide- all children have strengths and weaknesses. However, extreme giftedness is as difficult to deal with as certain learning disabilities.
  • These are the parts of the brain that I will be speaking to you about this evening.
  • Motor cortex is a narrow strip that occupies the top of the hemispheres of the brain.The prefrontal cortex makes up about 29% of the total cortex and is thought to be the area that creates our personality, curiosity, decision making, and allows us to think about the consequences of the actions that we choose to make. It “blends individual inputs from various regions of the brain into a comprehensive and comprehendible whole.” The frontal cortex is also responsible for “motor activation, intellect, conceptual planning, coordination of movement for muscle groups, and the integration of primary sensory information.” Emotional regulation capability is not able to fully operate during adolescence. Therefore, children and young adults are more likely to make poor decisions and indulge in high risk behaviors. Matures VERY slowly, usually not until early adulthood (around the age of 20) It takes so long to mature because it has to communicate with all the areas of the brain.Gifted children MAY experience faster maturation in this area because myelination is more widespread. (covering of the axon)
  • Temporal Lobe is responsible for interpreting sound, speech, as well as some parts of long term and visual memory. It also plays a role in emotion functions. Occipital lobe is responsible for visual processing.Parietal Lobe deals with the integration of 3D information. It is broken into two lobes; the right and the left. The right lobe deals with visual and spatial info. The left lobe processes verbal information.
  • Damage to the cerebellum can create difficulty with speech, movement, and can mimic autistic behaviors.The Brain stem regulates body functions such as respiration, temperature, blood pressure, and digestion. Plays a role in sleep, waking, and attention
  • The brain stem is in the limbic area of the brain. It’s main job is memory. The thalamus is the entrance point for most information- sight, sound, touch, and taste. It then travels on to be further processed and interpreted by the brain.The hippocampus is responsible for changing information from the working memory into long term memory.The amygdala is important to emotions, with an emphasis on fear. It also regulates behaviors that are necessary to survive. This includes (especially in animals) when to mate, when to eat, or when to fight or flee. It is also believed that the amygdala can “encode an emotional message, if one is present, whenever an experience is destined for long-term storage.” We are even able to create an emotional tie to a memory that has already been established and placed into long term memory. This theory explains why we are able to best recall the memories that were made during the best and worst times in our lives. Gifted people can experience these feelings on a more intense level. They typically possess the ability to sense things more vividly. They are also able to connect more than one intense sense to a memory. Their brains allow them to do this because they are more efficient and have a larger capacity. Being able to create these connections between the senses is called multi-modality. Their memory allows them to store a specific recollection in several areas of the brain, creating connections between all the memories which increases the speed of their memory. They are able to make connections that others can not. Because of these added connections, gifted people experience many benefits. These include a larger memory bank, being able to recall things faster, being better able to analyze things, and more realistic recollections. They can also create negative effects as well. These include overload of the senses, emotions, memory, organizational abilities, and even becoming distracted more easily because of all the input. This can lead to a feeling of being lost or fatigue.
  • The left side of the brain helps people to focus and prioritize goals, work through details, and implement strategies.The right side of the brain is more creative. It is the “dreamer”. It helps to combine ideas, sensations, images, and helps to create ways to approach things in a different way. This side of the brain is also more oriented toward the “big picture.” Gifted students are able to “maintain productive communication and cooperation between both sides,” or use optimal thinking. Most people have a dominant side of their brains. “In 97% of the population, the left hemisphere is dominant. 99% right handed individuals and between 60% and 70% of left-handers are left-hemispheric dominant.”
  • 1/3 of the cells in the brain are neurons. The rest are called the glial cells. They act as filters and glue.
  • Learning does not increase the number of brain cells, however, it may increase the speed, size, and number of connections that can be made by the brain. The brain is a muscle and effort seems to improve its use. Gifted students learn faster than others; they may only need to hear something once or twice before having created a memory and understanding of the new information. While some students may seem to be easily distracted because of the ability to implement optimal thinking or due to the hypersensitivity they deal with, they are often times misdiagnosed as having ADHD. These students may seem distracted and to not be paying attention in class, when really they are honing in on the information they need to understand a concept while tuning out the info they already know. The main thing is that the task is completed.
  • Creating a memory is done through a series of chemical and physical changes that take place when new information is processed by the brain. The more times you do something, the faster the neurons fire together. Doing something repeatedly allows these “firings” to occur at a quicker pace, therefore making a memory. Because of their ability to create these memories, students may be able to recall information they had learned years prior at times. They are able to take snippets of information, random it may be, and make a memory of it to use later. This incidental learning may be the reason why people say that gifted students have a wealth of knowledge.
  • Students need to learn these study skills for long term learning. If they are able to use their study skills, they are more capable of making connections between this new learning and background knowledge they have on a topic. This allows them to make those connections in order to make a memory. If they do not possess these skills, they will rely on rote rehearsal or memorization. This may lead to the misunderstanding that learning means being able to recall information directly as it was learned, without new ideas, solutions, concepts, or theories to test or prove the original.
  • If a student is dealing with an enormous amount of stress or emotions, they may be unable to create accurate long term memories and be unable to function cognitively.Intense emotional situations may make it impossible to process incoming information, in addition, it may make an enhanced memory of the event.
  • Gifted Achievements may emerge more readily depending on a culture and its values. Sousa states, “Giftedness is what others in a society perceive to be higher and lower on some culturally embedded scale.”
  • The three traits are: general or specific abilities that were above average, commitment to task, and creativity.Schoolhouse giftedness is the ease of acquiring knowledge and taking tests as demonstrated through high grades and high test scores. Creative-productive giftedness involves creating new products and ideas designed to have an impact on a specific audience or field.
  • Gardner’s intelligence theory is based on information processing and thinking. He suggests that they may be “the product of the interaction between genetic predisposition and the environment.” More along the idea of nature AND nurture instead of nature vs. nurture. Bodily/Kinesthetic -the use of the body to solve a problem, make something, or put on a productionNaturalist – the ability to discriminate among living things and sensitivity to other features of the natural worldLogical/Mathematical- the ability to understand logical systems and to manipulate numbers and quantitiesMusical/Rhythmic- the capacity to think in music and to hear, remember, recognize, and manipulate patternsVerbal/Linguistic- the capacity to use one’s language as well as others to express oneself and understand othersVisual/Spatial- the ability to represent the spatial world internally in one’s mindInterpersonal- the ability to understand other peopleIntrapersonal- the capacity to understand oneself
  • Analytical Intelligence- ability in analyzing, critiquing, and evaluatingCreative Intelligence- good at discovering, inventing, and creatingPractical Intelligence- excel at application, utilizing, and implementing.In 1995 he added his theory that a gifted person meets five criteria:1) Excellence- superiority in some dimension relative to peers2) Rarity- possesses a skill or attribute that is rare among peers3) Productivity- must produce something in the area of giftedness4) Demonstrability- skill or aptitude must be demonstrable through a valid assessment5) Value- superior performance in something that is valued by societyStudents need to work through five steps to solve a problem: identification, acquire resources, devise a strategy to solve the problem, monitor the problem solving, and evaluate the problem solving. These steps encourage the use of all three of the types of intelligence.
  • Left Side of the brain: is connected to the right side of the bodyIs sequentialIs analyticalSpoken languageArithmetic operationsReasoningRoutine operationsRight Side of the brain:Connected to the left side of the bodyHolisticAbstractInterprets language through gesturesInsightNovel operationsThe ability of specific areas of the brain to perform unique functions is known as lateralization or specialization.
  • In a new situation, the brain activates and uses the right hemisphere. The more a person is exposed to this situation, the faster the brain can respond. After a period of time, it becomes a behavior and moves to the left hemisphere. For a gifted person, this change happens after fewer exposures. This is why gifted students need less repetition. It does not matter WHAT the new information is, the shift between the two hemispheres will occur. While processing new information, the blood flow levels in the frontal cortex are at their highest, but when the behavior becomes learned, the blood flow drops.
  • Prefrontal cortex links new knowledge to prior knowledge. Sensory input is passed from the sensory nerves to the thalamus. (reception)Inputs are directed to parietal and temporal lobes, as well as the limbic areas to be analyzed.(integration)Frontal lobe combines new information with pieces that are already present in memory and determines what action to take. (interpretation)
  • EEG study by Norbert Jausovec in 2000 Findings included:High IQ individuals used less mental effort when solving closed problemsHighly creative individuals used less mental effort when engaged in creative problem solvingCreative individuals showed more cooperation among brain areas than gifted individuals. Gifted individuals showed more decoupling of brain areas when solving ill-defined problems. (PBL’s)
  • Each year of school completed allows for an approximate gain of 3.5 IQ pointsBreast fed children have a 3-8 point IQ gain by the age of threeIn a New York based study of one million students, IQ scores increased by 14% after removal of dyes, colorings, preservatives, and artificial flavorings from food served at school lunch
  • Context dependent means that the answer given changed based on how the type of question changed.Context independent means that the answer given was based much more on preferences no matter how the question changed. Females are better at verbal tasks, males are better at visual/spatial tasks.In studies of phonetic processing, females activated the speech center (Broca’s area) in both the left and right temporal lobes. Males activated Broca’s area only in the left temporal lobe.
  • In differentiation, we don’t always change the curriculum itself. For example, at Riverview, students are given pretests. If a student scores above a certain percent, then he or she is given the choice to participate in the Pegasus resource room. There I teach them much of the same material but at a more challenging level and faster pace. The topic may be the same (i.e. Geometry for sixth graders at the moment) but students are given more complex problems to apply the knowledge to. It is essential that students are provided a challenging environment, responsibility for oneself, are given a chance to share their strengths, and that their needs are met.
  • Open ended or messy questions provide students with real life problem solving situations. Sometimes students become insecure or frustrated because there is no simple answer. They see the situation and want to know how to solve it immediately, without having to go back and try something again. I have seen this more often than not and it is evident in almost every gifted child that I have worked with. We need to remind students that mistakes are a vital part of learning and there is often more than one right answer. Students also need to understand that the explanation process is just as important as an answer.
  • Knowledge relates to rote learning and memorization- facts, dates, people- no understanding of actual learning taking placeComprehension relates to the ability to make sense of the material- material may be recalled and used at a later dateApplication relates to the ability to recall information in a new situation and use it to select, transfer, and apply data to the new task. Practice is essential hereAnalysis relates to the ability to break material into smaller parts so the structure may be understood. At this level, the information is organized and reorganized into different parts, utilizing the frontal lobes. Synthesis refers to the ability to put parts together and create a plan to follow. Creativity is essential at this level and the formation of NEW patterns and structures is created. Most typically associated with the AHA! Moment.Evaluation refers to the ability to determine whether or not the material is relevant based on specific criteria. Contains elements of ALL the other levels. NOT RELATED TO TESTING
  • It is not only important to challenge students on a complex level, but also on a difficulty level. Complexity relates to the thought process used to deal with information. Difficulty relates to the amount of effort the learner puts in, in relation to the level of complexity in order to understand a learning objective. Some learning experiences may be more difficult without being more complex. Sometimes classroom teachers are more likely to increase the difficulty rather than the complexity. Gifted students can pass quickly through the first three levels.
  • Fluency is the ability to generate new ideas- needed to explain what you know, ways to solve a problemFlexibility is the ability to generate a broad range of ideas, more than one way to solve a problemOriginality is the ability to create unusual or unique ways to solve a problemElaboration is the ability to add detail and ideas to reasoningSince creativity engages the right frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, people who are good at imagery will also be creative.
  • Take a problem and force yourself to see it differentlyAbility to determine which of your ideas are worthwhile to pursueIdeas are not always fully understood and may need to be “sold” to othersCan help people to decide what to pursue or may inhibit them from considering other perspectivesMust be determined to overcome obstaclesWilling to take risks- ability to overcome and succeedWilling to expand upon ideas and try something newMust believe in yourself even when others do notHigh tolerance because you will encounter itIn order to be your best you must love what you do
  • In a PBL, the teacher is there to act as a coach. They should ask questions, help plan, and guide the students toward the right questions to ask and what to do with the information they acquire. The teacher acts as a guide rather than a provider of info. Many students get frustrated with PBL’s because the answer is not immediate and there is no single one correct answer.
  • The gifted brain

    1. 1. The Gifted Brain<br />What makes Gifted children learn differently?<br />
    2. 2. What does it mean to be gifted and talented?<br />Being gifted is not just a number, it is a profile. <br />Being gifted is not always a blessing.<br />It has been said that giftedness relates to above average aptitude and talent relates to above average performance in areas of human activity-math, music, literature(Gagne, 1985)<br />Is it something more? What does it mean to you? <br />
    3. 3. Reactions to being gifted<br />Denying talent<br />Feeling obligated to give<br />Dissonance<br />Risk Taking<br />Competition<br />Impatient<br />Premature ID<br />
    4. 4. GT fact or fiction?<br />A GT student can take care of him or herself and learn on their own.<br />Academically gifted children have general intellectual power that makes them gifted in all areas.<br />Gifted students have higher self-esteem than nongifted students.<br />Giftedness in any area requires a high IQ.<br />
    5. 5. Fact or Fiction? <br />The grouping of Gifted Students increases academic benefits.<br />Gifted Students do not have to work hard.<br />Reading and writing skills developed at a young age do not have a direct correlation. <br />All children are gifted.<br />
    6. 6. The Parts of the Brain<br /><ul><li>Four Lobes
    7. 7. Cerebellum
    8. 8. Brain Stem
    9. 9. Limbic Area
    10. 10. Cerebrum
    11. 11. Brain Cells</li></li></ul><li>The Frontal Lobe<br />Responsible for movement through the motor cortex<br />Contains the prefrontal cortex<br />Working memory is located here<br />Regulates emotions <br />
    12. 12. The Temporal, Occipital, and Parietal Lobes<br />Temporal=Speech Center<br />Occipital= Vision<br />Parietal=Stimuli, Sensory Integration, and Orientation<br />
    13. 13. The Cerebellum and the Brain Stem<br />Cerebellum<br />Brain Stem<br />Means “little brain”<br />Responsible for movement<br />Vital body functions<br />Referred to as the “reptilian brain’<br />Houses the reticular activating system<br />
    14. 14. The Limbic Area<br />Thalamus<br />Hippocampus<br />Amygdala<br />Matures by age ten to twelve<br />
    15. 15. The Cerebrum<br />Covered by the cortex<br />This encases the four lobes of the brain<br />Remember that the nerves in the brain cross over to the opposite side. (right crosses to left, left crosses to right)<br />The bridge that allows the two hemispheres to connect is called the corpus callosum<br />
    16. 16. Brain Cells<br />Almost all neurons are created before birth<br />The brain is composed of approximately a trillion cells<br />
    17. 17. Brain Size, Intelligence, and Speed of Learning<br />In a recent study of twins, levels of intelligence were linked to the amount of matter present in the frontal lobes, however this can not be proved<br />
    18. 18. Memory<br />Learning is the process of acquiring new knowledge, memory is the process of retaining the knowledge and skills for the future<br />Research shows that the frontal lobe plays a part in working memory AND long term memory<br />“Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.” ~ Oscar Wilde<br />
    19. 19. Memory and Study Skills<br />Students need help creating effective study skills for life<br />Gifted children possess a wealth of knowledge and like to pick it up on their own<br />Study Skills are necessary so students know what to do with the new information they acquire<br />
    20. 20. Emotions and Memory<br />Parts of the brain that deal with the input of emotion may play a role in the creation of memories<br />
    21. 21. Theories and Definitions of a Gifted Brain<br /><ul><li>Joseph Renzulli
    22. 22. Robert Sternberg</li></li></ul><li>What is Giftedness?<br /><ul><li>Giftedness in one area is more common than giftedness across the board
    23. 23. Results from the interaction of three traits (Renzulli, 1978)
    24. 24. Renzulli (1986) believes that giftedness is divided into two types of performance: </li></ul>Schoolhouse Giftedness <br />and<br />Creative-productive Giftedness<br />
    25. 25. Multiple Intelligences<br />Howard Gardner came up with the theory of multiple intelligences<br />
    26. 26. The Triarchic Theory and the Pentagonal Implicit Theory of Giftedness<br />Robert Sternberg developed these theories in 1985 and 1995<br />Three types of intelligence<br />Analytical<br />Creative<br />Practical <br />
    27. 27. Psychological Characteristics<br />“The purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best. “ ~ Paul Valery<br />
    28. 28. The Cerebral Hemispheres<br />Right frontal lobe is wider and protrudes over the left frontal lobe<br />Left occipital lobe is wider and protrudes over the right occipital lobe<br />Right hemisphere contains more norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter)<br />Left hemisphere contains more dopamine<br />Right hemisphere contains more estrogen receptors<br />
    29. 29. The Cerebral Hemispheres Cont’d<br />Right brain deals with new information<br />After repetition, the brain creates coping strategies and learning occurs due to a change of behavior<br />Repetition leads to routine and responses move to the left hemisphere by way of the corpus callosum<br />
    30. 30. How does learning occur? <br />Reception<br />Integration<br />Interpretation<br />
    31. 31. Decision Making and Neural Efficiency<br />Decision Making <br />Neural Efficiency<br />Single Answer questions require the use of veridical decision making<br />This is what gets us through the day<br />Decisions based on context and priority are made using adaptive decision making<br />This is what gets us through life<br />This occurs when the frontal lobes experience more events that allow for adaptive decision making and complex problem solving<br />Helps the brain to become more efficient (neural efficiency)<br />
    32. 32. Nurture-what can you do to help your child grow?<br />School Attendance<br />Breast Feeding<br />Diet<br />
    33. 33. Male vs. Female<br />Male <br />Female<br />In cognitive problem solving studies, males seemed to be more context dependent<br />Tendency to “size up” the problem at hand and come up with a solution that is appropriate to the specific context<br />Better at communicating within the hemispheres of the brain<br />In cognitive problem solving studies, females seemed to be more context independent<br />Tendency to seek solutions that can apply across a number of different situations. <br />Better at communicating between the hemispheres of the brain<br />
    34. 34. Encouragement<br />Studies show that students who are excessively given praise for their intelligence and academic performance may lead to the belief that good test scores and high grades are more important than trying, learning, and mastering something new<br />Also showed that students praised for intelligence learn to value performance, <br />Children praised for effort and hard work value learning opportunities<br />
    35. 35. What can we do to challenge the gifted?<br />Creativity, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Social/Emotional, and PBL’s<br />“Creativity comes from trust . Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.”<br />~ Rita Mae Brown<br />
    36. 36. Differentiation<br />Differentiation means changing the way curriculum is presented and the application of student learning <br />Use of the learning strategies that provide depth and complexity based on the students ability<br />Products allow students to showcase their talents and curiosities as well as to share their learning with an appropriate audience<br />Students are allowed to work more independently and at their own pace<br />Also allows students to pursue their interests outside the school setting<br />
    37. 37. Social and Emotional Climate<br />Open ended questions are a great way for students to be challenged<br />Mistakes help us learn<br />More than one right answer<br />More than one way to find an answer<br />Must be able to explain<br />
    38. 38. Bloom’s Taxonomy<br />
    39. 39. Level One: Knowledge<br />Level Two: Comprehension<br />Level Three: Application<br />Level Four: Analysis<br />Level Five: Synthesis<br />Level Six: Evaluation<br />
    40. 40. Convergent and Divergent Thinkers<br />First three levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy<br />Learner recalls and focuses on what is already known to solve a problem<br />Learner gains new insights and opinions<br />Learner makes discoveries that were NOT originally part of the information given<br />
    41. 41. Creative Thinking<br />“Studies show that creativity may be the result of a series of cognitive processes that can be developed in most individuals.” ~Sousa, 2003<br />Four behaviors associated with creativity:<br />Fluency, Flexibility, Originality, and Elaboration<br />
    42. 42. Ten Ways to Encourage Creativity<br />Redefine Problems<br />Analyze One’s Ideas<br />Sell One’s Ideas<br />Knowledge is a Double-Edged Sword<br />Surmount Obstacles<br />
    43. 43. Ten Ways to Encourage Creativity Cont’d<br />Take Sensible Risks<br />Willingness to Grow<br />Believe in Yourself<br />Tolerance of Ambiguity<br />Find What You Love and Do It<br />
    44. 44. Problem Based Learning<br />Real life<br />Multifaceted<br />Significant complexity<br />Lack information<br />Unclear steps<br />Creation of alternative solutions<br />Selection of one solution <br />Develop a plan<br />
    45. 45. Resources <br />Webb, James T. Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential, 2005. Print.<br /><ul><li>Sousa, David A. How the Gifted Brain Learns. Thousand Oaks: Corwin, 2003. Print.
    46. 46. "Wetware: The Biological Basis of Intellectual Giftedness." Hoagies Gifted Ed. Web. 1 Jan. 2011. <>.</li></li></ul><li>Winner, Ellen. "Uncommon Talents: Gifted Children, Prodigies, and Savants." Scientific American (1998). Web.<br />Eide, Brock, and FernetteEide. "Brains on Fire: The Multimodaliy of Gifted Thinkers." Hoagies Gifted Ed. Web. <>.<br />