Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When It Comes To Intelligence, Size Matters

Date:
March 26, 2009
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
A new study has demonstrated a positive link between cognitive ability and cortical thickness in the brains of healthy six- to 18-year-olds. The correlation is evident in regions that integrate information from different parts of the brain. The imaging study is the most comprehensive of its kind with a representative sample of healthy children and adolescents.

Areas in the brain where there is an association between general cognitive ability and cortical thickness.
Credit: Montreal Neurological Institute

A collaborative study led by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), McGill University has demonstrated a positive link between cognitive ability and cortical thickness in the brains of healthy 6 to 18 year olds. The correlation is evident in regions that integrate information from different parts of the brain.

Related Articles


The imaging study published this week in a special issue of scientific journal Intelligence is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind with a representative sample of healthy children and adolescents.

This study stems from the NIH MRI Study of Normal Brain Development, for which the MNI was the data coordinating centre. The database contains MRI scans and other data on the structure and function of the developing brains. More than 500 children and adolescents from newborns to 18-year-olds had brain scans multiple times over a period of years as well as intelligence, neuropsychological, verbal, non-verbal and behavioural tests. This information is now contained within the database allowing scientists to study how normal developmental changes in brain anatomy relate to motor and behavioural skills, such as motor coordination and language acquisition. Even higher-order skills like planning, IQ, and organizational skills can be assessed.

Previous studies have shown that intelligence and cognitive ability are correlated with regional brain structure and function. The association between regional cortical thickness and intelligence has been little studied and most previous studies of normal children had a relatively small sample. So with improvements in MRI-based quantification of cortical thickness and a much larger sample, researchers aimed to examine this relationship and to further characterize and identify brain areas where cortical thickness was associated with cognitive performance.

Cortical thickness may in part reflect the amount of complex connections between nerve cells. In other words, thicker cortices are likely to have more complex connections with consequences on cognitive ability. A positive link between cortical thickness and cognitive ability was detected in many areas of the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. The regions with the greatest relationship were the 'multi-modal association' areas, where information converges from various regions of the brain for processing.

"A principal finding of this study is that it supports a distributed model of intelligence where multiple areas of the brain are involved with cognitive ability difference instead of the view that there is just one centre or structure important for intelligence differences in the brain," says Dr. Sherif Karama, psychiatrist at the MNI and co-investigator in the study. "Previous studies have shown a link between intelligence differences and individual brain structure or function. This is the first time that a correlation between a general cognitive ability factor and essentially most, if not all, cortical association areas is demonstrated in the same study."

A deeper insight into normal cognitive functioning and abilities is an important first step in the understanding of cognitive decline observed in the elderly as well as in those with various pathologies ranging from multiple sclerosis to schizophrenia, depression and mental retardation. Such an understanding may eventually lead to interventions that may be able to prevent or alleviate the decline or complications in cognitive function.

The project was funded by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and the Fonds de Recherchι en Santι du Quebec (FRSQ).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Karama, Y. Ad-Dab'bagh, R.J. Haier, I.J. Deary, O.C. Lyttelton, C. Lepage, A.C. Evans and the Brain Development Cooperative Group. Positive association between cognitive ability and cortical thickness in a representative US sample of healthy 6- to 18-year-olds. Intelligence, 2009; 37 (2): 145 DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2008.09.006

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "When It Comes To Intelligence, Size Matters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325132531.htm>.
McGill University. (2009, March 26). When It Comes To Intelligence, Size Matters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325132531.htm
McGill University. "When It Comes To Intelligence, Size Matters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325132531.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins