Innate talents: reality or myth?

Behav Brain Sci. 1998 Jun;21(3):399-407; discussion 407-42. doi: 10.1017/s0140525x9800123x.


Talents that selectively facilitate the acquisition of high levels of skill are said to be present in some children but not others. The evidence for this includes biological correlates of specific abilities, certain rare abilities in autistic savants, and the seemingly spontaneous emergence of exceptional abilities in young children, but there is also contrary evidence indicating an absence of early precursors of high skill levels. An analysis of positive and negative evidence and arguments suggests that differences in early experiences, preferences, opportunities, habits, training, and practice are the real determinants of excellence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude / physiology*
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Creativity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Male