The Ohio State University at Mansfield

Joanne Ruthsatz

mansfield/portraits/ruthsatz_joanne1.jpgAssistant Professor, Psychology
Office: Ovalwood 329
Phone: 419-755-4117

Dr. Ruthsatz specializes in research on child prodigies. She has found a link between autism and the exceptional behavior displayed by child prodigies, and hopes to better understand their talents by examining this link. Currently, she is preparing to collect DNA from the child prodigies and their biological relatives, many who have autism, in the hopes of identifying the first strong candidate gene for autism. Students can work with Professor Ruthsatz on her research by helping with literature reviews.

Research Spotlight

Ever try to memorize pi to 100,000 digits? Or how about mastering a Beethoven symphony in a week? You probably haven’t, but the ones who have achieved similar triumphs are known as child prodigies. These gifted children have been the subject of Psychology Professor Dr. Joanne Ruthsatz’s research for the past 14 years. She is currently working toward finding the link between autism and child prodigies.

In January, her research was featured on CBS 60 Minutes where she studied a child prodigy who began his college career at 8 years old. There have also been several articles and journals that have written about the findings of Dr. Ruthsatz and her colleagues. These include the Columbus Monthly, OSU Arts & Science Magazine, and Intelligence. Her remarkable research has recently gained support through a $90,000 grant from the Marci and Bill Ingram Comprehensive Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. This money will be used to analyze DNA and further understand the high rate of child prodigies having autism.

One special finding from Dr. Ruthsatz’s research is that child prodigies mainly use their intelligence to benefit society. “They have this advanced moral development. I don’t have one that I am aware of that I have done a full assessment on that doesn’t help other people,” says Dr. Ruthsatz. Some child prodigies have raised a significant amount of money for charity organizations. The video in the upper right-hand corner features Dr. Ruthsatz discussing some of the prodigies she has studied.

Students interested in assisting with Dr. Ruthsatz’s research can help her with literature reviews and peer review her writing. Those that desire research experience can also assist in finding relationships between populations for the phenomena known as synesthesia. You can email her or visit her office at Ovalwood 329 for additional information.