Mathematics and giftedness: insights from educational neuroscience

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Woolcott, G 2011, 'Mathematics and giftedness: insights from educational neuroscience', in J Clark, B Kissane, J Mousley, T Spencer & S Thornton (eds), Mathematics: traditions and [new] practices: Proceedings of the 34th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia and the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, Alice Springs, NT, 3-7 July, Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, and Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Adelaide, SA, pp. 830-838. ISBN: 9781875900701

Published version available from: http://www.merga.net.au/node/38?year=2011


Exceptional performance, or giftedness, in mathematics is complicated by the variety of conceptual approaches to studies of giftedness as well as the broad and diverse nature of mathematics as taught in modern educational institutions. This paper outlines approaches to giftedness in mathematics that are based in studies of cognition within the discipline of educational neuroscience, approaches that conceptualise giftedness within a context that is sensitive to modern biology and, at the same time, inclusive of modern research in the social and behavioural sciences. Based on such approaches, exceptional performance in mathematics is discussed in relation to cognition and performance as a product of internal processing and environmental connectivity of the human organism. Such approaches have facilitated the development of an overarching framework for learning and memory that may enable a view, within the constraints of empirical science, of educational concepts related to exceptional performance. This framework may provide useful insights into the identification and education of students who may be gifted in mathematics.