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Musical ProdigiesInterpretations from Psychology, Education, Musicology, and Ethnomusicology$
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Gary E. McPherson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199685851

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199685851.001.0001

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The brain’s rapid encoding of rule-governed domains of knowledge

The brain’s rapid encoding of rule-governed domains of knowledge

A case analysis of a musical prodigy

(p.245) Chapter 9 The brain’s rapid encoding of rule-governed domains of knowledge
Musical Prodigies

Larry Vandervert

Oxford University Press

Advances in understandings that the brain’s cerebellum and cerebral cortex collaborate in the development and ongoing operation of working memory offer new insights on how deliberate practice produces prodigies. Within this context, the purpose of this chapter is to describe how the cerebellum is a “master computational system” that encodes sequences of internal and external events in order to anticipate future circumstances and their performance requirements. This encoding process is described within the context of a case study of a musical prodigy. It is concluded (1) that owing to innate emotional sensitivity which accelerates attentional focus and shifting in prodigies, the cerebellum’s encoding of anticipatory information is likewise accelerated thereby producing their extraordinary gains from deliberate practice, and (2) that this first occurs during the development of unconscious working memory in infancy.

Keywords:   cerebellum, prodigy, deliberate practice, musical prodigy, working memory, unconscious working memory

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