Correlates of Intellectual Ability With Morphology of the Hippocampus and Amygdala in Healthy Adults

Brain Cogn. 2008 Mar;66(2):105-14. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2007.05.009. Epub 2007 Jul 24.


Several prior imaging studies of healthy adults have correlated volumes of the hippocampus and amygdala with measures of general intelligence (IQ), with variable results. In this study, we assessed correlations between volumes of the hippocampus and amygdala and full-scale IQ scores (FSIQ) using a method of image analysis that permits detailed regional mapping of this correlation throughout the surface contour of these brain structures. We delineated the hippocampus and amygdala in high-resolution magnetic resonance images of the brain from 34 healthy individuals. We then correlated FSIQ with overall volumes and with the surface morphologies of each of these structures. Hippocampus volumes correlated significantly and inversely with FSIQ independently of gender, age, socioeconomic status, and whole brain volume. Left and right hippocampus volumes correlated respectively with verbal and performance IQ subscales. Higher IQs were significantly associated with large inward deformations of the surface of the anterior hippocampus bilaterally. These findings suggest that a smaller anterior hippocampus contributes to an increased efficiency of neural processing that subserves overall intelligence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology*
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Organ Size
  • Reference Values