Intuitive Aptitude is the ability to perfectly understand and utilize anything from information, theories, skills, riddles, logic, and puzzles, to the structure and operation of complex systems or codes without special education or training.
- Sylar naturally possesses this ability.
- Peter was exposed to this ability when encountering Sylar in Homecoming. He did not demonstrate it until much later when Future Gabriel taught him how to access it. He lost it to his father.
- Samson Gray is chronologically the first character to have this ability.
Sylar himself describes intuitive aptitude as the ability to understand how things work, and how to fix them if they are broken. However, the latter aspect of the ability has almost never been utilized by Sylar after his abandonment of his former identity as Gabriel Gray, timepiece restorer.
Sylar's ability seems to be constantly active, unconsciously helping him to analyze any system that he encounters. For systems that he already understands (like watches), he can detect and identify flaws in the mechanism with only a cursory inspection. Systems that he has never seen before may require more extensive study, but he seems to be able to comprehend them far more quickly than any ordinary person could, and he requires far less technological equipment.
Sylar's ability seems to work for analyzing mechanical and biological systems. Whether it would work on other types of systems (such as electronic hardware or computer software) is not yet known, although he has claimed that it allows him to rapidly analyze human behavior. The future versions of Peter and Sylar from the exposed future have both stated that intuitive aptitude can even be used to understand the complexities of cause and enffect, allowing one to control the course of the future. Sylar is also able to use his ability to understand the abilities of other evolved humans; while being attacked by Knox in the exposed future, Future Sylar immediately deduces that Knox draws his power from fear and states that Knox will be unable to fight him as he is not afraid.
With this ability, Sylar is able to study evolved humans to analyze their abilities and copy them, adding them to his own. He can also learn to control them more quickly than the original owners can (e.g. emitting multiple, controlled pulses of radiation from his hands soon after acquiring induced radioactivity).
Sylar does not need to kill someone to gain their ability. However, a physical study of the victim's brain requires direct observation necessitating the removal of the upper part of the skull, so the victim soon dies of blood loss and trauma. Victims with rapid cellular regeneration, however, can survive this by repairing the damage. Sylar has demonstrated that he can also "empathically" copy abilities without injuring the source, but still prefers the brain removal method out of a love of killing. He first demonstrated this by empathically copying electric manipulation from Elle. In order to do this, he had to connect with her by helping her to regain control of her powers. Sylar later demonstrates this aspect of his ability on several occasions, copying shape shifting from James Martin, flight from Nathan Petrelli, and empathy from Lydia during a romantic encounter with her.
Angela explained to Sylar that his ability creates a hunger than can be controlled with structure. On the other hand, Arthur explained to Sylar that if he gained control of his emotions and helped someone else to deal with traumatizing personal emotions, he could gain a target's abilities without physical study of the brain, though with less control over the new ability. Both techniques have proved useful in allowing Sylar to control the hunger and gain abilities without having to kill his victims to study their brains. One of his future selves managed to bring the hunger under control, fighting it every day for his son, Noah Gray.
Sylar can also detect some medical conditions, such as Charlie's aneurysm and Hiro's brain tumor. Perhaps due to his studies of the brain structure, he had enough knowledge about Charlie's aneurysm to remove it without hurting her.
Peter was exposed to this ability on Homecoming night, but needed a future Gabriel to explain how the ability works to access it. Gabriel gave Peter his broken watch to repair; performing the repair using telekinesis allowed Peter to manifest the ability. Afterward, Peter was able to understand Nathan's thought process and wanted to explore his thoughts more by slicing his head open, but stopped.
Future Gabriel also explained to Peter that the ability creates a hunger (i.e., an obsession to understand as much as possible) that is hard to control, and made him a killer. When Peter teleports to Sylar's Level 5 cell, Sylar notes that Peter now has the same hunger that Sylar has because of the ability. This hunger caused him to attack his own mother and start to slice her head open before Sylar stopped him.
Intuitive aptitude also seemed to help him gain better control over his previously absorbed powers; he was able to use telepathy on a stronger level than previously demonstrated, he could time travel and teleport much more accurately than in the past and his telekinesis was more refined than he had previously demonstrated.
Peter lost this ability after his father stole all of his powers from him.
As with Sylar, this ability caused Samson Gray to go on a killing spree to acquire abilities, including telekinesis and sedation, plus many others that he claims to have forgotten. Samson eventually gave up killing and seemed to suppress the hunger, but when he saw Sylar's regeneration at work, it caused the hunger to return.