Intellectual ability and cortical development in children and adolescents

Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20182, USA.
Nature (Impact Factor: 42.35). 04/2006; 440(7084):676-9. DOI: 10.1038/nature04513
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Children who are adept at any one of the three academic 'R's (reading, writing and arithmetic) tend to be good at the others, and grow into adults who are similarly skilled at diverse intellectually demanding activities. Determining the neuroanatomical correlates of this relatively stable individual trait of general intelligence has proved difficult, particularly in the rapidly developing brains of children and adolescents. Here we demonstrate that the trajectory of change in the thickness of the cerebral cortex, rather than cortical thickness itself, is most closely related to level of intelligence. Using a longitudinal design, we find a marked developmental shift from a predominantly negative correlation between intelligence and cortical thickness in early childhood to a positive correlation in late childhood and beyond. Additionally, level of intelligence is associated with the trajectory of cortical development, primarily in frontal regions implicated in the maturation of intelligent activity. More intelligent children demonstrate a particularly plastic cortex, with an initial accelerated and prolonged phase of cortical increase, which yields to equally vigorous cortical thinning by early adolescence. This study indicates that the neuroanatomical expression of intelligence in children is dynamic.

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Available from: Nitin Gogtay, Jul 27, 2015
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    • "Our current approach to understanding human development is based mainly on observations of how changes in cognitive performance relate to functional and anatomical brain development (Cohen Kadosh, et al., 2013a; Shaw, et al., 2006). Despite the importance of changes in excitatory and inhibitory inputs for the maturation of cortical circuits (Carcea and Froemke, 2013; Hensch and Bilimoria, 2012; Hensch and Stryker, 2004), nothing is known about the relative contribution of neurotransmitter interactions, such as excitatory (glutamate) or inhibitory (γ-aminobutyric acid, (GABA)) neurotransmitter levels, to these developmental changes in humans. "
    Human Brain Mapping 07/2015; in press. · 6.92 Impact Factor
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    • "), 同时, 大脑 皮层厚度的变化速率与一般认知功能的变化有显 著相关(Sowell et al., 2004)。 超常儿童大脑皮层的变 化速率在 11 至 12.5 岁之间最快(Shaw et al., 2006), 而普通儿童大脑皮层的变化速率在 13 至 15 岁之间 最快(Østby et al., 2009)。其中前额叶区域的变化最 大(Shaw et al., 2006), 而前额叶区域又与个体的认 知能力(Hampshire, Thompson, Duncan, & Owen, 2011; Shaw, 2007; Sowell, Delis, Stiles, & Jernigan, 2001)、元认知能力(Schmitz, Kawahara-Baccus, & Johnson, 2004; Shimamura, 2000) 和 认 知 效 率 (Gómez-Pérez, Ostrosky-Solís, & Próspero-García, 2003; Spear, 2000)有密不可分的关系。随着年龄增 "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study investigated the developmental differences of problem solving ability between intellectually-gifted and intellectually-average children from cognitive, metacognitive and efficiency dimensions. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal data were collected. The cross-sectional study included 131 intellectuallygifted and 163 intellectually-average children aged from 11 to14, and the longitudinal study included 32 intellectually-gifted and 38 intellectually-average children aging from 11 to 13. A redesigned Sokoban game was used to measure the three dimensions of problem solving ability simultaneously. The number of successful solutions was adopted as indicator of cognitive ability, ratio between planning time and total time as indicator of metacognitive ability, and total moves as indicator of cognitive efficiency. Results showed that the intellectually-gifted were significantly superior to their intellectually-average cohorts in the three dimensions. Moreover, both cross-sectional and longitudinal data showed obvious developmental cascade of the three dimensions. However, the development patterns differed between the two groups. In the intellectually-gifted group, problem solving ability at the age of 13.73 and 12.46 was significantly higher than that at the age of 11.12, but no significant difference was found between the 13.73 and 12.46. In the intellectually-average group, however, problem solving ability at the age of 13.73 was significantly higher than that of 11.12 and 12.46 years old, but no significant difference was found between the latter two. Further, both cross-sectional and longitudinal data revealed remarkably higher score of the intellectually-gifted in earlier years but smaller group difference at the age of 13.5. The major finding of the present study was that problem solving ability of intellectually-gifted and intellectually-average children followed different developmental patterns. The development of the intellectually-gifted accelerated during age of 11~12.5 and slowed down during age of 12.5~14. In contrast, intellectually-average children developed slowly during the age of 11~12.5 and accelerated during age of 12.5~14. Group differences of problem solving ability diminished gradually as they grew older. Different development patterns may be attributed to the synaptic pruning and myelination of neurons. This finding has important implications for educational practice. In order to better cultivate intellectually-gifted children, educational professionals should make full use of their advantages at earlier years and provide enriched educational environment to develop their non-academic abilities, such as sociality, self-regulation skills.
    Acta Psychologica Sinica 12/2014; 46(12):1823-1834. DOI:10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.01823
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    • "The volume of cerebral gray matter sharply decreases from childhood to adolescence, evidently due to dendritic pruning, and there are large increases in white matter, caused by myelination, increases in axonal size, and glial proliferation (De Bellis et al., 2001; Giedd, 2005; Giedd et al., 2001; Shaw et al., 2006). This pattern of exuberant growth and pruning is relevant to arguments that adolescence conferred reproductive advantages on our ancestors, partly by giving the young additional opportunities to acquire social and sexual skills before reproducing (Bogin, 1999a,b). "
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