April 11, 2012

New Study Reveals Brain's Architecture Of Intelligence

Although neuroscience has progressed in establishing the role various brain structures play in the executive functioning of the brain, there has not been solid evidence of the brain networks that support high-level cognition and general intelligence. In a new study released in the journal Brain, a fascinating picture is emerging that could support new understanding of the brain's critical functions. Scientists gathered 182 volunteers with very localized brain injuries from penetrating head wounds, and subjected them to CT scans and an extensive battery of cognitive tests. What they found was that general intelligence was derived from a particularly circumscribed neural system. Several brain regions working in connection were found to be most important for general intelligence. These structures were primarily found behind the forehead (left prefrontal cortex), behind the ear (left temporal cortex), and the top rear of the head (left parietal cortex). The data also disclosed that brain regions for planning, self-control and other key elements of executive functioning overlapped those structures found important for general intelligence. This new evidence suggests that intelligence does't derive from one brain region or the brain as a whole, but specific brain areas working together in a coordinated way.

A. K. Barbey, R. Colom, J. Solomon, F. Krueger, C. Forbes, J. Grafman. An integrative architecture for general intelligence and executive function revealed by lesion mapping. Brain, 2012; DOI: 10.1093/brain/aws021