What are the traits that propel people to greatness with their thinking skills?

Myth buster!

Albert Einstein was not a slow learner early in his life.  According to the 2011 Time Magazine, special edition about Albert Einstein, when Einstein was 6 years old and starting school he was placed into the second grade.  Pretty advanced in my book!

What Does It Take To Be A Genius?

By Dr. Vicki Parker

What are the traits that propel people to greatness with their thinking skills?


Curiosity is my favorite.  Curious individuals are intrinsically self-motivated.  Individuals who have curiosity seek to find new ways to solve problems and will experiment with different questions and strategies to accomplish tasks.  Curious people are more open-minded and more likely to listen deeply to others’ ideas.  They want to find answers.


By now most of us have heard of the 10,000 hours rule.  We need 10,000 hours of practice to move from novice to expert.  Poldrack (2005 Journal of Neuroscience), addresses why practice is so important; repetition makes thinking skills automatic so you don’t need to utilize the frontal area of your brain for decision making.  Skill learning increases activity in the basal ganglia, a subcortical area.  When you have made strong foundational skills automatic at the subcortical level you free up cortical space for processing new, novel, and higher level information.  You will also have broader associations that help to link and hold new information.  This goes back to the old adage don’t pass up an opportunity to learn something new even if you don’t think it is useful now, because it might shape another thought at a crucial time.  Innovators often associate information that they learned about seemingly unrelated events, objects, or theories in new and novel ways.  They see analogies in situations.


If we have an attitude that we can learn from our mistakes, what I think of as wisdom, we are in a better place to accept new learning and can progress forward.  When we are willing to try new strategies and look at a problem from other perspectives or clinical directions we can be innovative and collaborative.

Physical Activity:

There is increasing evidence that being physically active is good for your brain.  What does exercise do for our brains?  Our brains need oxygen and exercise delivers it!  Exercise also releases epinephrine and norepinephrine which tells the brain to recall what is occurring in our bodies that has accelerated this chemical release.  Having a healthy body supports a healthy brain.  Pairing movement with a cognitive task can further assist with making the bonds stronger for better automaticity and retrieval of procedures or information later.

Neuroplasticity recognizes that everyone can improve:

A question we receive fairly frequently at The Brain Trainer is “Is it possible to further advance my smart kid?”  YES!!  We do this every day.  Kids with significant strengths usually love brain training because it is fun mental games and it challenges them.  The activities are designed so that their strengths help improve their weaknesses.  We use an interactive rather than passive learning approach, which has been shown to be more effective for learning.  Training is doing the skill not listening to how the skill is done.  All of these evidence based tactics are used in our individualized program designs.  Brain training can enrich your gifted child and give them the edge in life-long learning.

Dr. Parker

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