Multivariate Associations of Fluid Intelligence and NAA

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Abstract

Understanding the neural and metabolic correlates of fluid intelligence not only aids scientists in characterizing cognitive processes involved in intelligence, but it also offers insight into intervention methods to improve fluid intelligence. Here we use magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) to measure N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), a biochemical marker of neural energy production and efficiency. We use principal components analysis (PCA) to examine how the distribution of NAA in the frontal and parietal lobes relates to fluid intelligence. We find that a left lateralized frontal-parietal component predicts fluid intelligence, and it does so independently of brain size, another significant predictor of fluid intelligence. These results suggest that the left motor regions play a key role in the visualization and planning necessary for spatial cognition and reasoning, and we discuss these findings in the context of the Parieto-Frontal Integration Theory of intelligence.

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