Methods for identifying cognitively gifted children
A small percentage of children shows outstanding cognitive abilities and perform at much higher levels than their same age peers. Psychological science has absorbed knowledge from different spheres such as psychometrics, mathematics, statistics, and psychology to develop methods for identifying cognitively gifted children. The study of intelligence has a long history and has been influenced by social environment, wars, education systems and revolutions. In this paper we focus on two main techniques of identifying cognitively gifted children (a) intelligence testing and (b) domain specific exams called Olympiads (e.g., math and physics). We provide a short historical perspective of the evolution of intelligence testing in Europe and the USA and domain specific Olympiads in Russia. We discuss advantages and limitations of both techniques. Moreover, we highlight that cognitive neuroscientists have been trying to understand the brain mechanisms that may drive cognitive abilities in highly performing children using neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We summarize the knowledge we gained to date from fMRI studies and show that the majority of studies examine mathematically gifted male adolescents with mental rotation tasks. Despite critical advances there is still a lot to be done in understanding the semantic brain-behavior relations in cognitively gifted children.