Erik J.T. Matser
Cornell University, Netherlands
Scientific Tracks Abstracts: J Psychol Psychother
Talent identification and talent optimization are important topics in the world of sports, music and business. It has been proven that practice leads to better accomplishments and that, due to practice otherwise known as deliberate practice, actual changes occur in the brain. This fact has become known as the ’10 year rule’: training or practicing during the course of a period of 10 years cause a significant improvement in accomplishments and with that also changes in brain tissue. However, if all team members live and train in the same context i.e. each following the same amount of training time as well as the same eating pattern and each spend equal amounts of time sleeping, how is it possible that one member achieves a higher level of performance than the other. This article will not only shed light on the learning processes that improve performance, it will also present an idea (or definition) of what talent is. Talent is the explanation for why some achieve more than others (under the same learning conditions). Top-talents present with an extraordinarily high standard of cognitive skills, primarily in the areas of visual information processing speed and workingmemory. Aside from these cognitive skills, the motivational profile of these top-talents was also mapped. It seems that they have certain personality traits at their disposal which enable excellent achievements. In combining excellent cognitive skills with a specific motivational profile, the chances of success are increased. Identifying and optimizing top-talent is a unique process in which clinical neuropsychology seems to be gaining a role of ever increasing importance. Conclusion To belong to the best in the world and to be able to compete with them, several ingredients can be extracted from the nature-nurture discussion which seem essential in predicting success. Although many hours of specific training focussed on changing brain tissue are necessary to achieve a certain skill, it seems that intellectual, cognitive and congenital characteristics play an equally important part. Neuropsychological research demonstrates this point, using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. When people with certain skills (talent) are selected, a training programme should be carried out which will support optimal development of brain tissue, which in turn will optimize the functionality of the skill system being trained. With this in mind one should base one’s conclusions on the principles of scientific literature on learning. A clinical talent identification and talent optimization neuropsychologist can be deployed when identifying and optimizing talent as well as composing a specific team culture and aligning different characters to form the most desirable combination for a top-class team.
Erik Matser has completed his PhD from Maastricht University (2000) and from New York (Cornell University). He is the Director of the Polikliniek Neuropsychologie, a clinic in Netherlands, focused on the treatment of post-concussion syndrome and post whiplash syndrome. He has published more than 15 papers in reputed journals and has been serving as a Member of the Dutch Health Council regarding the topic brain injury in young people.
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