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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Expertise and individual differences: the search for the structure and acquisition of experts’ superior performance

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What is expertise and where does it come from? Modern research techniques have made it possible to objectively measure performance in new ways, revealing that expertise derives neither from basic cognitive ability nor from the sheer amount of experience. Rather, it develops—particular forms of training and practice induce cognitive, perceptual, physiological, neurological, and anatomical changes necessary for the acquisition of complex domain‐specific skills. WIREs Cogn Sci 2017, 8:e1382. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1382

Procedure for capturing expert performance in the laboratory by representing naturally occurring situations as the task. The top of the figure shows the stream of naturally occurring situations. As shown in the bottom part of the figure, one can present a particular challenging chess position from an actual game and ask for the best next move in a laboratory setting. Alternatively, one can project a film of a player serving a tennis ball and ask the participants to attempt to return the ‘imaged ball’ with the best shot using their racket. These representative situations can then be presented to participants differing in skill, and their performance can be recorded with reaction times, accuracy of response, and process‐tracing data—such as eye‐fixations and concurrent or retrospective verbal reports. (Re‐publication of Figure 1 in Ericsson, K. A., & Ward, P. (2007). Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 347)
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A schematic illustration of the acquisition of expert performance as a series of states with mechanisms of increasing complexity for monitoring and guiding future improvements of specific aspects of performance. (Adapted from “The scientific study of expert levels of performance can guide training for producing superior achievement in creative domains” by K. A. Ericsson in Proceedings from International conference on the cultivation and education of creativity and innovation (p. 14). Beijing, China: Chinese Academy of Sciences. Copyright 2009 International Research Association for Talent Development and Excellence)
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