Child prodigies are at the extreme end of genius. Einstein was not a child prodigy, which means that he didn’t have fully formed mathematical skill from the age of ten or younger. His genius was more attuned to an overall vision, not to technical details. Yet some genius is totally formed at birth, it seems, and there is no material explanation for it.
All our current models of the brain indicate that it is unformed at birth and needs experience to mature. For instance, if you don’t expose a newborn baby to language, it will never learn to speak. There is even evidence that early deprivation of love and nurturing will leave a lifelong void that later experience cannot fill, or only with great difficulty.
The experience flowing in from the outer environment shapes the so-called hard-wiring of the cerebral cortex. The primitive, unformed network of neurons that a newborn brings into this world isn’t like a computer’s wiring. Neurons need to interact with all kinds of stimuli before they can form the infinitely ordered, flexible, and efficient network of a mature brain.
A prodigy doesn’t come out of nowhere; he is formed by invisible intelligence that has somehow (no one knows exactly) decided to speed up the learning process far beyond the normal pace, leaving nothing to chance, not even the environment.
Rarely super-prodigies emerge whose abilities are not confined to a single talent but encompass all mental activity; theses children are estimated to fall within the top one-quarter of 1 percent of IQs measured worldwide.
Mind shapes brain, not the other way around. The intelligence that courses through you is turning you into what you are going to be.
Adapted from How To Know God, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2000).