German scientists believe they may have unlocked the mystery as to why some people are smarter than others.
Researchers at Goethe University, Frankfurt, published an article in the Journal of Scientific Reports They scanned the brains of more than 300 participants to delineate what helps form human intelligence.
After completing the extensive study, they found that individuals who demonstrated higher functioning mental capabilities possessed a stronger wiring network that encompassed disparate regions of the brain.
“In intelligent persons, certain brain regions are more strongly involved in the flow of information between brain regions, while other brain regions are less engaged,” the study published on November 22 explains.
The paper added: “This is similar to a social network which consists of multiple sub-networks (e.g., families or circles of friends).”
“Within these sub-networks or modules, the members of one family are more strongly interconnected than they are with people from other families or circles of friends. Our brain is functionally organized in a very similar way.”
The researchers examined the brains of 199 females and 110 males, and found that individuals with the better wiring of the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex, the two areas of the brain associated with the cognitive processing of task-relevant information, demonstrated better cognitive function.
The researchers defined intelligence as the “general mental capability that involves the ability to reason, to think abstractly, and to learn quickly from experiences,” and consulted graph theoretical network analysis methods to draw their conclusions.
“The different topological embedding of these regions into the brain network could make it easier for smarter persons to differentiate between important and irrelevant information— which would be advantageous for many cognitive challenges,” Ulrike Basten, the lead researcher for Goethe University study, argued.
The anatomy of an individual’s brain also played a role in higher intelligence. It helped increase the capacity of an individual to focus and avoid distraction.
“We assume that network properties we have found in more intelligent persons help us to focus mentally and to ignore or suppress irrelevant, potentially distracting inputs,” said Basten.
The reason why brain chemistry differs in individuals remains unknown. It was determined that “both genetic and environmental factors are likely to have an impact on a person’s intelligence,” the study notes.
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