How gifted brains work
Posted Sept. 2, 2005
Special to World Science
Highly intelligent people use slightly different brain circuitry to solve IQ test problems than their less gifted peers, some new studies have found.
The findings are sparking some debate, because different experiments have given different results, leading to varying opinions on how highly intelligent brains work.
Nonetheless, researchers say they're hopeful that the findings have enough in common to eventually give clear answers-and possibly, some speculate, help researchers devise techniques to improve thinking abilities.
"Where in the brain is intelligence? Are we getting close to an answer?" Richard J. Haier of the University of California at Irvine, who has conducted many studies on individual differences in intelligence, asked rhetorically. "I think we are."
One new study has found that although people show increased activity in several brain regions while taking IQ tests, gifted people show even greater activity in these regions.
This difference was especially pronounced in a zone called the posterior parietal cortex, at the top-back of the head, the researchers found, suggesting further study of this area might give insights into how intelligence works.
The researchers-Kun Ho Lee at Seoul National University in Korea, and others at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and other institutions-published the findings in the Aug. 22 early online edition of the research journal Neuroimage.
The posterior parietal cortex is considered important for "working memory"-the ability to hold items actively in mind, as when remembering a phone number for a few seconds, according to the researchers. Thus, high intelligence might partly be a fairly straightforward matter of more working memory capacity, they said.
But the claim of a special role for this brain area was somewhat unusual in light of previous studies.
Full Text at World-Science
Robert Karl Stonjek
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