Psychologists have long debated whether exceptional achievement demands raw talent or hard work. The development of artistic skill in children offers a window into the complex forces that define the first stages of mastery. As the drawings in this slide show reveal, some children discover new techniques and produce more complex compositions than others of the same age.

Talent alone does not explain these artists' virtuosity. They also possess a strong desire to engage with art and devote many hours to making it. Learn more about the development of artistic genius in "How to Spot Artistic Brilliance," by psychologists Jennifer E. Drake and Ellen Winner at Boston College in the November/December issue of Scientific American MIND.

» View the Portraits in Precocity Slideshow