What is normal development for a gifted child? "Giftedness is 'asynchronous development' in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching, and counseling in order for them to develop optimally."
Brain imaging research provides evidence for this developmental difference in the maturation of very bright children. In 2006, researchers from the National Institute of Health and the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University published results of a study that showed that children with greater than average intellectual ability "demonstrate a particularly plastic cortex" in which the building up phase of the cortex, when connections are formed that allow for high-level thinking, begins and ends later than average (reaching its peak at roughly age eleven or twelve as opposed to seven or eight), and the subsequent thinning or pruning phase of cortical development is rapid. One of the study's authors, neuroscientist Jay Geidd, explains the process as one of sculpting..