Converted from two comments by Thomas Riepe made elsewhere in this blog:
Here is a report about a new study on teenage brains. Apparently not only (as already known) in very early childhood, but until adulthood too, “unused” brain circuits are ruthelessly deleted in the browing brain. This strenghtens the need for advanced, complex input in teenagers’ brains and not as late at the university.
… and it explains this this observation by Dennis Sullivan:
“There’s an interesting theory that, among mathematicians for example, a person may discover they like mathematics and have a strong aptitude. They get so involved in it that their personality development is arrested at that point. They just stop caring about the finer points of their finishing, you might say. I’ve seen this in every one of my six children. They’re like little mathematicians or little scientists, then for some reason that usually washes out. They get interested in other things. For some of us, like me, it didn’t wash out.”