Diffusion markers of dendritic density and arborization in gray matter predict differences in intelligence

Genc, Erhan ; Fraenz, Christoph ; Schluter, Caroline ; Friedrich, Patrick ; Hossiep, Rudiger ; Voelkle, Manuel C. ; Ling, Josef M. ; Gunturkun, Onur ; Jung, Rex E. (2018)

CITATION: Genc, E., et al. 2018. Diffusion markers of dendritic density and arborization in gray matter predict differences in intelligence. Nature Communications, 9:1905, doi:10.1038/s41467-018-04268-8.

The original publication is available at https://www.nature.com

Article

Previous research has demonstrated that individuals with higher intelligence are more likely to have larger gray matter volume in brain areas predominantly located in parieto-frontal regions. These findings were usually interpreted to mean that individuals with more cortical brain volume possess more neurons and thus exhibit more computational capacity during reasoning. In addition, neuroimaging studies have shown that intelligent individuals, despite their larger brains, tend to exhibit lower rates of brain activity during reasoning. However, the microstructural architecture underlying both observations remains unclear. By combining advanced multi-shell diffusion tensor imaging with a culture-fair matrix-reasoning test, we found that higher intelligence in healthy individuals is related to lower values of dendritic density and arborization. These results suggest that the neuronal circuitry associated with higher intelligence is organized in a sparse and efficient manner, fostering more directed information processing and less cortical activity during reasoning.

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