Evaluation of a “mental effort” hypothesis for correlations between cortical metabolism and intelligence
Abstract Previous research indicates that low scores on the Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices (RAPM) test are associated with increased cortical glucose utilization during problem solving. We hypothesized that previous results may reflect the neurophysiological consequences of patterns of effort requirements; that is, high-effort expenditure from lower aptitude participants (for whom the problems are hard) and low-effort expenditure from higher aptitude participants (for whom the problems are easy). In this experiment, positron emission tomography (PET) data were gathered on participants ( N = 28 ) who solved easy and hard problems that were tailored to the participants' own ability levels, thereby eliminating aptitude group differences in effort requirements. Contrary to previous results, high aptitude was associated with high cortical glucose use. Average aptitude participants showed diminished glucose use in the hard condition. A significant Group X Condition X Hemisphere Effect was also noted, with greater right hemisphere activation in the hard condition for the high-aptitude group. These results demonstrate that the relation of cerebral glucose use and cognitive ability is sensitive to participant and task selection.
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