Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 219, Issue 2, pp 485–494 | Cite as

Architecture of fluid intelligence and working memory revealed by lesion mapping

  • Aron K. Barbey
  • Roberto Colom
  • Erick J. Paul
  • Jordan Grafman
Original Article


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.


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



We are grateful to S. Bonifant, B. Cheon, C. Ngo, A. Greathouse, V. Raymont, K. Reding, and G. Tasick for their invaluable help with the testing of participants and organization of this study. This work was supported by funding from the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke intramural research program and a project grant from the United States Army Medical Research and Material Command administered by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation (Vietnam Head Injury Study Phase III: a 30-year post-injury follow-up study, grant number DAMD17-01-1-0675). R. Colom was supported by grant PSI2010-20364 from Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación [Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain].

Supplementary material

429_2013_512_MOESM1_ESM.docx (104 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 104 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aron K. Barbey
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Roberto Colom
    • 7
  • Erick J. Paul
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jordan Grafman
    • 8
  1. 1.Decision Neuroscience Laboratory, University of IllinoisChampaignUSA
  2. 2.Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and TechnologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA
  5. 5.Department of Speech and Hearing ScienceUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA
  6. 6.Neuroscience ProgramUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA
  7. 7.Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Fundación CIEN/Fundación Reina SofíaMadridSpain
  8. 8.Traumatic Brain Injury Research Laboratory, Rehabilitation Institute of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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