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Scientists Unravel Mysteries of Intelligence
Date:2/26/2010

Good connections between key brain areas may be crucial, study shows

FRIDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- It's not a particular brain region that makes someone smart or not smart.

Nor is it the strength and speed of the connections throughout the brain or such features as total brain volume.

Instead, new research shows, it's the connections between very specific areas of the brain that determine intelligence and often, by extension, how well someone does in life.

"General intelligence actually relies on a specific network inside the brain, and this is the connections between the gray matter, or cell bodies, and the white matter, or connecting fibers between neurons," said Jan Glascher, lead author of a paper appearing in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "General intelligence relies on the connection between the frontal and the parietal [situated behind the frontal] parts of the brain."

The results weren't entirely unexpected, said Keith Young, vice chairman of research in psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine in Temple, but "it is confirmation of the idea that good communication between various parts of brain are very important for this generalized intelligence."

General intelligence is an abstract notion developed in 1904 that has always been somewhat controversial.

"People noticed a long time ago that, in general, people who are good test-takers did well in a lot of different subjects," explained Young. "If you're good in mathematics, you're also usually good in English. Researchers came up with this idea that this represented a kind of overall intelligence."

"General intelligence is this notion that smart people tend to be smart across all different kinds of domains," added Glascher, who is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of humanities and social sciences at the C
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