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Intelligence Map Made From Brain Injury Data 102

An anonymous reader writes with this news out of the University of Illinois: "Scientists report that they have mapped the physical architecture of intelligence in the brain. Theirs is one of the largest and most comprehensive analyses so far of the brain structures vital to general intelligence and to specific aspects of intellectual functioning, such as verbal comprehension and working memory. Their study, published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology (abstract), is unique in that it enlisted an extraordinary pool of volunteer participants: 182 Vietnam veterans with highly localized brain damage from penetrating head injuries. ... The researchers took CT scans of the participants’ brains and administered an extensive battery of cognitive tests. They pooled the CT data to produce a collective map of the cortex, which they divided into more than 3,000 three-dimensional units called voxels. By analyzing multiple patients with damage to a particular voxel or cluster of voxels and comparing their cognitive abilities with those of patients in whom the same structures were intact, the researchers were able to identify brain regions essential to specific cognitive functions, and those structures that contribute significantly to intelligence."
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Intelligence Map Made From Brain Injury Data

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @03:30PM (#39635607)

    This is one of those fine moments when I wish scientific journals posted online weren't pay-walled. Kinda kills the dissemination of knowledge to the masses when one has to pay $32 to view a single article once, and makes it economically infeasable for an individual to read and verify the information they hear from primary sources.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @03:40PM (#39635737) Homepage

    While this is undoubtedly an important study, their findings are going to have to be replicated somehow in a larger, more diverse set of subjects. They're looking at just 182 people and, while it's not mentioned explicitly in the article, it appears they're all men. We know from other studies that there are anatomical differences in men's brains compared to women's brains, and even between left handed and right handed men. It would be very interesting to see, for example, a FMRI study to see if the structures play the same role in all patients.

  • Reference? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Terwin ( 412356 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @03:59PM (#39635901)

    TFA did not specify any pre-injury base-line for intelligence.
    Did they all take intelligence tests before enlisting?
    Seems unlikely.
    Did they have any other way to check cognitive function prior to the injury so they had some sort of a useful base-line?

    Is it possible that a majority of the differences, especially in general intelligence, were less related to the injuries and more related to nature/nurture?

    How about compensation?
    Humans are great at adapting.
    Did they check their results with people who had more recent injuries?

    Might be a good starting point, but it sounds like there is a lot that could affect the things they were testing for that were not isolated or otherwise accounted for.

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