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Neuron. 2012 Dec 20;76(6):1225-37. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.06.022.

Fractionating human intelligence.

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The Brain and Mind Institute, The Natural Sciences Centre, Department of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario, London ON, N6A 5B7, Canada.


What makes one person more intellectually able than another? Can the entire distribution of human intelligence be accounted for by just one general factor? Is intelligence supported by a single neural system? Here, we provide a perspective on human intelligence that takes into account how general abilities or "factors" reflect the functional organization of the brain. By comparing factor models of individual differences in performance with factor models of brain functional organization, we demonstrate that different components of intelligence have their analogs in distinct brain networks. Using simulations based on neuroimaging data, we show that the higher-order factor "g" is accounted for by cognitive tasks corecruiting multiple networks. Finally, we confirm the independence of these components of intelligence by dissociating them using questionnaire variables. We propose that intelligence is an emergent property of anatomically distinct cognitive systems, each of which has its own capacity.

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