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Published March 9, 2010 | Supplemental Material + Published
Journal Article Open

Distributed neural system for general intelligence revealed by lesion mapping


General intelligence (g) captures the performance variance shared across cognitive tasks and correlates with real-world success. Yet it remains debated whether g reflects the combined performance of brain systems involved in these tasks or draws on specialized systems mediating their interactions. Here we investigated the neural substrates of g in 241 patients with focal brain damage using voxel-based lesion–symptom mapping. A hierarchical factor analysis across multiple cognitive tasks was used to derive a robust measure of g. Statistically significant associations were found between g and damage to a remarkably circumscribed albeit distributed network in frontal and parietal cortex, critically including white matter association tracts and frontopolar cortex. We suggest that general intelligence draws on connections between regions that integrate verbal, visuospatial, working memory, and executive processes.

Additional Information

© 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. Edited by Edward E. Smith, Columbia University, New York, NY, and approved January 25, 2010 (received for review September 10, 2009). Published online before print February 22, 2010. We thank Prof. M. Spezio for fruitful discussions of methodological issues; and Prof. M. Cassell (University of Iowa) for neuranatomical advice regarding white matter tracts. This work was supported by Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina Grant 9901/8-140 (to J.G.) and by National Institutes of Health Grants P01NS19632 (to D.T., H.D., and R.A.), R01DA022549 (to D.T.), and R01MH080721 (to R.A.), a grant by the Simons Foundation to R.A., as well as by the Tamagawa University global Centers of Excellence Program of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology. R.C. was funded by Grant SEJ-2006-07890 from the Ministry of Education and Culture, Spain, and Grant PR2008-0038 from the Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain. Author contributions: J.G. and R.A. designed research; D.T. and H.D. performed research; H.D. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; J.G., D.R., and R.C. analyzed data; and J.G., D.R., R.C., L.K.P., D.T., H.D., and R.A. wrote the paper.

Attached Files

Published - Glascher2010p7348P_Natl_Acad_Sci_Usa.pdf

Supplemental Material - pnas.200910397SI.pdf


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