Are Geniuses Born or Made? A Conversation with Dr. Joy Hirsch

Is there a way to bring out the genius within all of us? In this interview with New York Times columnist Carl Zimmer as part of Big Think's partnership with 92Y's Seven Days of Genius series, neuroscientist Joy Hirsch explores the connections in our brain that make us different and whether people like Einstein are born geniuses or develop from blank slates.


I have been fascinated by geniuses for a long time and this has made me delve deep into studying the brain from the time I was 18 especially the subject of neuroplasticity. I wanted to fully understand how the brain works and how we could then hack it and make everyone a Math or Science genius. Are geniuses born or made? We all have encountered this question before and some of you have been called a genius because you do some things very well or better than most people in your sphere of influence.

The brain is the ultimate complex machine that makes one a genius and for us to understand geniuses we will need to grasp how the brain functions. We are all amazed by people like Lionel Messi, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams and Albert Einstein. Are they born geniuses or there were some external factors that made them turn out this way? I for one believe that our schooling system can create geniuses if the right environment can be created. Reading the story of Polgar Sisters and Williams Sisters I have concluded that one can create a genius. It is all about training the brain on a specialist skill early on starting in the first 1000 years of life.

The video above is by Neuroscientist Dr. Joy Hirsh and discussing this controversial topic. Please leave your comment if you think geniuses are made or born?