Physiological Evidence that Demand for Processing Capacity Varies with Intelligence

  • Sylvia Ahern
  • Jackson Beatty
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 14)


Spearman, in proposing his influential two-factor theory of intelligence, adopted an implicit biological model which was untestable in his time. Spearman suggested both a general factor of intelligence (g), which corresponded to the amount of “general mental energy” available to an individual for information processing, and a set of specific ability factors, which were brain systems or “mental engines” drawing upon the general energy pool (Spearman, 1904).


Digit Span Processing Capacity Processing Resource Sentence Comprehension Pupillary Response 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ahern, S.K. Activation and intelligence: Pupillometric correlates of individual differences in cognitive abilities. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of California, Los Angeles, 1978.Google Scholar
  2. Ahern, S. K., and Beatty, J. Physiological signs of information processing vary with intelligence. Science, 1979, 205, 1289–1292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baddeley, A. D. A three-minute reasoning test based on grammatical transformation. Psychonomic Science, 1968, 10, 341–342.Google Scholar
  4. Beatty, J. Pupülary dilation as an index of workload. In Proceedings of the symposium on man-system interface: Advances in workload study. Air Line Pilots Association, Washington, D.C., 1978.Google Scholar
  5. Beatty, J., and Wagoner, B. L. Pupillometric signs of brain activation vary with level of cognitive processing. Science, 1978, 199, 1216–1218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Goldwater, B.C. Psychological significance of pupillary movements. Psychological Biületin, 1972, 77, 340–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Halstead, W. C. Brain and intelligence: A quantitative study of the frontal lobes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1947.Google Scholar
  8. Kahneman, D. Attention and effort. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973.Google Scholar
  9. Kahneman, D., and Beatty, J. Pupil diameter and load on memory. Science, 1966, 154, 1583–1585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lindsley, D. B. Attention, consciousness, sleep and wakefulness. In J. Field (Ed.), Handbook of Physiology (Volume III). Washington, D.C.: American Physiological Society, 1960.Google Scholar
  11. Luria, A. R. The working brain. New York: Basic Books, 1973.Google Scholar
  12. Moruzzi, G. The sleep-waking cycle. Reviews of Physiology: Biochemistry and Experiments Pharmacology. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1972.Google Scholar
  13. Norman, D. A., and Bobrow, D. G. On data-limited and resourcelimited processes. Cognitive Psychology, 1975, 7, 44–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Spearman, C. General intelligence objectively determined and measured. American Journal of Psychology, 1904, 15, 201–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvia Ahern
    • 1
  • Jackson Beatty
    • 1
  1. 1.University of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations