Gifted Students May be Anxious too
School can be challenging for students, even those who are labelled as gifted. Often, people assume that gifted students do not struggle with homework, presentations, and tests because they are seen as above average and/or advanced in comparison to others. However, what many people don’t know is that gifted students are just as, if not more, likely to suffer from performance anxiety.
Not all gifted students develop anxiety, but researchers like Kazimierz Dabrowski have observed a close relationship between anxiety and high intelligence. Generally, gifted people are viewed as intelligent by their teachers, family, and peers. While this sounds positive, it can actually result to high expectations and critical self-evaluation. As a result, writing tests or giving a presentation may be a stressful task for gifted students and they may report feeling anxious. The question is, how can we help students reduce their anxiety and reach their full potential?
Alpha Brainwaves and EEG activity
Brainwaves, also known as neural oscillations, are rhythmic patterns of neural activity in the central nervous system. Brainwaves are categorized into five general different types: delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma.
Alpha waves are produced by our brains when we are in a calm and alert state. Alpha helps with mental coordination, calmness, alertness, mind/body integration, and learning. Gifted individuals are said to have higher alpha in comparison to the average person. A 1996 study looked at electroencephalograph (EEG) alpha activity in students who were gifted and students with average intelligence in three different situations:
Relaxation (eyes closed and eyes open)
Problem solving (two phases: preparing to problem solve and actual problem solving)
The study found that gifted individuals showed higher alpha power in all scenarios except when their eyes were closed and when they were preparing to problem solve. In those two situations, there weren’t any significant differences between gifted and average alpha activity.
People with high intelligence often demonstrate more brainwave activity in the high alpha frequency, however depending on where in the brain, it can be associated with anxiety. Thus, it is important to emotionally regulate yourself which is where peak performance neurofeedback training comes into play.
Peak Performance Neurofeedback Training
Similar to traditional neurofeedback, this brainwave training is non-invasive and usually targets brainwaves related to emotional regulation. This is to help cope with feelings of stress, anxiety, and ruminations that may occur in the classroom. Brainwaves related to focus and working memory are typically addressed as well. Overall, individuals are taught to regulate their brainwaves in order to achieve a flow state. A flow state is defined as an “optimal mental state that involves total absorption in the task or activity, which is characterized by a sense of self, full focus, complete involvement, a loss of personal ego, and total confidence” (Wells, 1998). Ultimately, peak performance training can help you reach a flow state which can then help you block out all other distractions in order to become immersed in the task at hand.
If you are a student struggling at school or a parent of a student who struggles with performance anxiety, then peak performance might be the right service for you. Click here to learn more.
Jausovec, Norbert. (1996). Differences in EEG alpha activity related to giftedness. Intelligence. 23. 159-173. 10.1016/S0160-2896(96)90001-X. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222974894_Differences_in_EEG_alpha_activity_related_to_giftedness
Pop-Jordanova, N., & Chakalaroska, I. (2008). Comparison of Biofeedback Modalities for Better Achievement in High School Students. Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, 1(2), 25-30. doi:10.3889/mjms.1857-5773.2008.0020 https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/mjms.2008.1.issue-2/MJMS.1857-5773.2008.0020/mjms.1857-5773.2008.0020.pdf
Wells, Greg. (1998). Peak Performance: A Literature Review. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265616014_Peak_Performance_A_Literature_Review