Intelligence is associated with the modular structure of intrinsic brain networks

General intelligence is a psychological construct that captures in a single metric the overall level of behavioral and cognitive performance in an individual. While previous research has attempted to localize intelligence in circumscribed brain regions, more recent work focuses on functional interactions between regions. However, even though brain networks are characterized by substantial modularity, it is unclear whether and how the brain’s modular organization is associated with general intelligence. Modeling subject-specific brain network graphs from functional MRI resting-state data (N = 309), we found that intelligence was not associated with global modularity features (e.g., number or size of modules) or the whole-brain proportions of different node types (e.g., connector hubs or provincial hubs). In contrast, we observed characteristic associations between intelligence and node-specific measures of within- and between-module connectivity, particularly in frontal and parietal brain regions that have previously been linked to intelligence. We propose that the connectivity profile of these regions may shape intelligence-relevant aspects of information processing. Our data demonstrate that not only region-specific differences in brain structure and function but also the network-topological embedding of fronto-parietal, as well as other cortical and subcortical brain regions, is related to individual differences in higher cognitive abilities, i.e., intelligence.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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