Scientists Attempt to Establish Links between Brain Connections and Intelligence
Scientists have developed a new technique that shows links between connections within the brain and intelligence in humans, according to an article published in the journal Neuron on January 4, 2018.
Understanding the network of connected nerve cells that make up the brain is a key area of research for scientists.
Brain imaging techniques have witnessed rapid advancements over the recent past, however, understanding how to relate the form of the brain and its connections to characteristics such as intelligence is a highly complex procedure.
Researchers from several Universities around the globe, collaborated in developing an extremely powerful MRI scanner, to build a map of the connectome.
“We saw a clear link between the ‘hubbiness’ of higher-order brain regions – in other words, how densely connected they were to the rest of the network – and an individual’s IQ,” said Jakob Seidlitz, a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge and co-author of the study.
“This makes sense if you think of the hubs as enabling the flow of information around the brain – the stronger the connections, the better the brain is at processing information.”
The team included 300 adolescent volunteers as part of their study, for which they compared these typically-developing adolescent brains and validated their results with an additional 124 volunteers.
To do so, they made use of MRI scans to build a network called morphometric similarity networks, which showed the connectivity inside the volunteers’ brains.
The results were verified with sampled monkey brains called the gold standard
They noted that while IQ varied across participants, their morphometric similarity networks accounted for around 40 per cent of that variation. This indicated that the physical structure of brains had a something to do with intelligence.
“The methodology in this paper takes us a bit in that direction,” said Professor Hill, but noted we are still a long way off being able to place someone in a brain scanner and measure their intelligence.
“This could take us closer to being able to get an idea of intelligence from brain scans, rather than having to rely on IQ tests,” said Professor Edward Bullmore, a psychiatrist at the University of Cambridge who was involved with the research.
Brain health can be measured through various devices, the demand for which has increased over the recent past due to rising prevalence of brain-related injuries and increasing brain health awareness among the populace, as per brain health devices market report published by Coherent Market Insights.
The new mapping technique could help scientists understand what triggers the symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia from differences in connectivity within the brain.
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