Architecture of fluid intelligence and working memory revealed by lesion mapping

Aron K. Barbey*, Roberto Colom, Erick J. Paul, Jordan Grafman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Although cognitive neuroscience has made valuable progress in understanding the role of the prefrontal cortex in human intelligence, the functional networks that support adaptive behavior and novel problem solving remain to be well characterized. Here, we studied 158 human brain lesion patients to investigate the cognitive and neural foundations of key competencies for fluid intelligence and working memory. We administered a battery of neuropsychological tests, including the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and the N-Back task. Latent variable modeling was applied to obtain error-free scores of fluid intelligence and working memory, followed by voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping to elucidate their neural substrates. The observed latent variable modeling and lesion results support an integrative framework for understanding the architecture of fluid intelligence and working memory and make specific recommendations for the interpretation and application of the WAIS and N-Back task to the study of fluid intelligence in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-494
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Fluid intelligence
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • General Neuroscience
  • Histology


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