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Joanne Ruthsatz

Joanne Ruthsatz
Joanne Ruthsatz

Child Prodigies, Autism and a Genetic Link

Could there be a genetic connection between child prodigies and autism? Joanne Ruthsatz will discuss her latest research that has exposed a previously unknown link. In an earlier study of eight prodigies, Ruthsatz found that three had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, while half had a family member or a first- or second-degree relative with an autism diagnosis. Ruthsatz is one of the world’s leading experts on child prodigies, and has studied 30 of them over the course of many years. In addition to talking about the links with autism, Ruthsatz will discuss her research examining the similarities and differences between prodigies. While all of the child prodigies Ruthsatz have studied display an extraordinary ability for working memory and extreme attention to detail, there are cognitive differences between domains. For example, the math prodigies have extraordinary ability in visual spatial skills, while the art prodigies have a deficit in that area. These cognitive differences between domains may predispose individuals, including nonprodigies, toward certain career paths.

Ruthsatz is an assistant professor of psychology.

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