Brain system behind general intelligence identified

February, 2010

Data from brain-lesion patients supports the idea that general intelligence depends on the brain's ability to integrate several different kinds of processing, and resides in a distributed network.

Using a large data set of 241 brain-lesion patients, researchers have mapped the location of each patient's lesion and correlated that with each patient's IQ score to produce a map of the brain regions that influence intelligence. Consistent with other recent findings, and with the theory that general intelligence depends on the brain's ability to integrate several different kinds of processing, they found general intelligence was determined by a distributed network in the frontal and parietal cortex, critically including white matter association tracts and frontopolar cortex. They suggest that general intelligence draws on connections between regions that integrate verbal, visuospatial, working memory, and executive processes.

Reference: 

[173] Gläscher, J., Rudrauf D., Colom R., Paul L. K., Tranel D., Damasio H., et al.
(2010).  Distributed neural system for general intelligence revealed by lesion mapping.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107(10), 4705 - 4709.