A distributed brain network predicts general intelligence from resting-state human neuroimaging data
Individual people differ in their ability to reason, solve problems, think abstractly, plan and learn. A reliable measure of this general ability, also known as intelligence, can be derived from scores across a diverse set of cognitive tasks. There is great interest in understanding the neural underpinnings of individual differences in intelligence, since it is the single best predictor of long-term life success. The most replicated neural correlate of human intelligence to date is total brain volume; however, this coarse morphometric correlate says little about function. Here we ask whether measurements of the activity of the resting brain (resting-state fMRI) might also carry information about intelligence. We used the final release of the Young Adult Human Connectome Project (N=884 subjects after exclusions), providing a full hour of resting-state fMRI per subject; controlled for gender, age, and brain volume; and derived a reliable estimate of general intelligence from scores on multiple cognitive tasks. Using a cross-validated predictive framework, we predicted 20% of the variance in general intelligence in the sampled population from their resting-state connectivity matrices. Interestingly, no single anatomical structure or network was responsible or necessary for this prediction, which instead relied on redundant information distributed across the brain.
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