Pharyngula

Lua Yar talks about…

The neurobiology of intelligence

Where do people get the idea that intelligence has a biological basis? Oh yeah, from those geneticists, whose research has shown that intelligence levels can be inherited. One fairly new development for researching intelligence is through the conduction of brain imaging studies.

Recently, two neuroscientists by the names of Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine and Rex Jung of the University of New Mexico, compiled a review of 37 such intelligence imaging studies. With this data, and current neurobiology studies that indicate intelligence is a measure of how well information travels through the brain, Haier and Jung formulated what they call the Parieto-Frontal Integration Theory (P-FIT). This theory identifies the stations of the brain, chiefly found in the frontal and parietal lobes, that network to produce intelligent information processing. So, whether you are smart or stupid depends, in part, on differences in connections between, and composition of, specific areas of the brain.

Haier and Jung have made many contributions to intelligence research. They discovered that it is unlikely that a single “intelligence center” exists, as the regions of the brain related to general intelligence are dispersed throughout the brain. In another study, general intelligence levels between the sexes were determined to have essentially no disparity, and yet their neural structures are different, with women having more white matter and men having more gray. This indicates that intelligence levels are independent of brain design.

Of course, can all of this just be taken with a grain of salt, because how does one really measure intelligence?