Exploring the neural substrates of attentional control and human intelligence: Diffusion tensor imaging of prefrontal white matter tractography in healthy cognition
Ohtani T, Nestor PG, Bouix S, Newell D, Melonakos ED, McCarley RW, Shenton ME, Kubicki M
Neuroscience 2017 01;341:52-60
We combined diffusion tension imaging (DTI) of prefrontal white matter integrity and neuropsychological measures to examine the functional neuroanatomy of human intelligence. Healthy participants completed the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Third Edition (WAIS-III) along with neuropsychological tests of attention and executive control, as measured by Trail Making Test (TMT) and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). Stochastic tractography, considered the most effective DTI method, quantified white matter integrity of the medial orbital frontal cortex (mOFC) and rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) circuitry. Based on prior studies, we hypothesized that posterior mOFC-rACC connections may play a key structural role linking attentional control processes and intelligence. Behavioral results provided strong support for this hypothesis, specifically linking attentional control processes, measured by Trails B and WCST perseverative errors, to intelligent quotient (IQ). Hierarchical regression results indicated left posterior mOFC-rACC fractional anisotropy (FA) and Trails B performance time, but not WCST perseverative errors, each contributed significantly to IQ, accounting for approximately 33.95-51.60% of the variance in IQ scores. These findings suggested that left posterior mOFC-rACC white matter connections may play a key role in supporting the relationship of executive functions of attentional control and general intelligence in healthy cognition.
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