Jonah Lehrer describes two studies showing that talent depends on the way we "chunk" information together. It's why chess grandmasters can memorize winning board patterns and why London cabbies know the city so well. But those skills can hinder individuals when it comes to comprehending new patterns:
The problem with our cognitive chunks is that they’re fully formed an inflexible pattern we impose on the world which means they tend to be resistant to sudden changes, such as a street detour in central London. They also are a practiced habit, and so we tend to rely on them even when they might not be applicable. ...
Those chess professionals and London cabbies can perform seemingly superhuman mental feats, as they chunk their world into memorable patterns. However, those same talents make them bad at seeing beyond their chunks, at making sense of games and places they can’t easily understand.
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