Scientists 'locate' intelligence

Bill Skaggs skaggs at bns.pitt.edu
Mon Jul 24 17:05:50 EST 2000


Jure <jure.sah at guest.arnes.si> wrote:
> > > Thursday, July 20, 2000, 22:01:22 pdt
> > > Scientists measuring blood flow to regions of the brain have found that
> > > one particular area (the frontal lateral cortex) was stimulated when
> > > performing complex tasks. Even tasks that required a wide range of
> > > cognitive functions did not stimulate numerous regions of the brain, as
> > > some scientists predicted. This finding gives credence to the highly
> > > controversial idea of a "g" factor (generalized intelligence), as
> > > advocated in The Bell Curve.

I wrote:
> > The next thing to do is to look for people with stroke-induced damage
> > to that part of the brain, and see if they're all morons.  Anybody
> > interested in taking a bet?

footy <footy at dskjfhsak.net> writes:
> Which side do you bet on?

I'm betting that they're not substantially less intelligent.
Correlation does not imply causation: just because activity in that
brain region is correlated with hard thinking doesn't mean that it's
the locus of hard thinking.  After all, a furrowed brow is also
correlated with hard thinking, across a wide variety of tasks, but it
would be absurd to say that the "g" factor is located in the muscles
of the face.  Maybe the frontal lateral cortex is the cerebral 
equivalent of a furrowed brow.

My skepticism arises from a comparison of the human brain with the
brains of apes -- the major difference is that the human brain has
greatly enlarged frontal lobes.  This is a much larger part of the
brain than the frontal lateral region that the Science paper is
talking about -- probably 10 to 20 times larger.  I find it hard to
believe that everything except this small subregion is basically
unimportant.

Anyway, somebody is bound to look at this pretty soon, and it'll be
interesting to see how it comes out.

	-- Bill






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