- Researchers study the brain of 324 healthy individuals using magnetic resonance tomography.
- They found that people’s level of general knowledge depends on structural brain network connectivity.
- The efficient fiber interconnections within the brain lead to more general knowledge.
We acquire knowledge about the world around us on a regular basis. Across our lifespan, we collect a whole treasure of information and master various skills by observing, reading, asking, and trying.
However, not all people have the same set of skills: some learn and process things faster than others. There are several methods to measure the knowledge of humans but a very little is known about how the brain stores and process general knowledge.
Recently, a team of German neuroscientists showed that the brains of intelligent people (having a high level of general knowledge) are networked efficiently. They used magnetic resonance tomography to prove that cognitive performance highly depends on both functional and structural characteristics of the brain.
So far, scientists have only focused on fluid intelligence and not on its equally important counterpart crystallized intelligence.
Crystallized intelligence can be defined as the breadth and depth of knowledge and skills. Such intelligence depends on how much information a person can store and it is likely to be reflected in his/her level of general knowledge.
Neural Architectures of Information Storage and Processing
The research team analyzed the brain of 324 healthy individuals using a special technique called magnetic resonance tomography along with diffusion tensor imaging and magnetic resonance imaging.
They reconstructed the course of nerve fibers, extracting insight of the structural interconnectedness of the brain. They used complex mathematical calculations to assign a unique value to the brain of each individual. The value represents how efficient the brain’s structural network is.
All participants were asked to take a test which consisted of over 300 questions from various fields ranging from chemistry and biology to art and architecture. The marks scored in the test are then used to analyze whether the efficiency of structural interconnection is linked with the amount of general knowledge stored in the brain.
Diffusion tensor imaging of the brain | Credit: RUB, Erhan Genç
Researchers found that men and women with very efficient fiber interconnections had more general knowledge compared to those with less efficient fiber networks.
They also discovered that fluid intelligence (ability to think abstractly and solve problems with no acquired knowledge) can be best predicted by functional network connectivity in females and cortex volume in males.
According to the researchers, individual pieces of knowledge are scattered across the brain in the form of partial information. Extracting information from different parts of the brain and successfully retrieving a knowledge content requires an efficient fiber network.
The efficient interconnections within brain lead to better integration of the partial information. – the Bochum researchers
The findings will encourage more neuroscientific studies focused on intelligence and other exciting aspects of the human mind.