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Neuroimage. 2006 Jan 15;29(2):578-86. Epub 2005 Aug 24.

Neural correlates of superior intelligence: stronger recruitment of posterior parietal cortex.

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1
School of Biological Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, South Korea. leekho@snu.ac.kr

Abstract

General intelligence (g) is a common factor in diverse cognitive abilities and a major influence on life outcomes. Neuroimaging studies in adults suggest that the lateral prefrontal and parietal cortices play a crucial role in related cognitive activities including fluid reasoning, the control of attention, and working memory. Here, we investigated the neural bases for intellectual giftedness (superior-g) in adolescents, using fMRI. The participants consisted of a superior-g group (n = 18, mean RAPM = 33.9 +/- 0.8, >99%) from the national academy for gifted adolescents and the control group (n = 18, mean RAPM = 22.8 +/- 1.6, 60%) from local high schools in Korea (mean age = 16.5 +/- 0.8). fMRI data were acquired while they performed two reasoning tasks with high and low g-loadings. In both groups, the high g-loaded tasks specifically increased regional activity in the bilateral fronto-parietal network including the lateral prefrontal, anterior cingulate, and posterior parietal cortices. However, the regional activations of the superior-g group were significantly stronger than those of the control group, especially in the posterior parietal cortex. Moreover, regression analysis revealed that activity of the superior and intraparietal cortices (BA 7/40) strongly covaried with individual differences in g (r = 0.71 to 0.81). A correlated vectors analysis implicated bilateral posterior parietal areas in g. These results suggest that superior-g may not be due to the recruitment of additional brain regions but to the functional facilitation of the fronto-parietal network particularly driven by the posterior parietal activation.

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