Morphometry of Left Frontal and Temporal Poles Predicts Analogical Reasoning Abilities

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Analogical reasoning is critical for making inferences and adapting to novelty. It can be studied experimentally using tasks that require creating similarities between situations or concepts, i.e., when their constituent elements share a similar organization or structure. Brain correlates of analogical reasoning have mostly been explored using functional imaging that has highlighted the involvement of the left rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (rlPFC) in healthy subjects. However, whether inter-individual variability in analogical reasoning ability in a healthy adult population is related to differences in brain architecture is unknown. We investigated this question by employing linear regression models of performance in analogy tasks and voxel-based morphometry in 54 healthy subjects. Our results revealed that the ability to reason by analogy was associated with structural variability in the left rlPFC and the anterior part of the inferolateral temporal cortex. Tractography of diffusion-weighted images suggested that these 2 regions have a different set of connections but may exchange information via the arcuate fasciculus. These results suggest that enhanced integrative and semantic abilities supported by structural variation in these areas (or their connectivity) may lead to more efficient analogical reasoning.

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