The neuroscience of human intelligence differences

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2010 Mar;11(3):201-11. doi: 10.1038/nrn2793. Epub 2010 Feb 10.


Neuroscience is contributing to an understanding of the biological bases of human intelligence differences. This work is principally being conducted along two empirical fronts: genetics--quantitative and molecular--and brain imaging. Quantitative genetic studies have established that there are additive genetic contributions to different aspects of cognitive ability--especially general intelligence--and how they change through the lifespan. Molecular genetic studies have yet to identify reliably reproducible contributions from individual genes. Structural and functional brain-imaging studies have identified differences in brain pathways, especially parieto-frontal pathways, that contribute to intelligence differences. There is also evidence that brain efficiency correlates positively with intelligence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Intelligence / genetics
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Thinking / physiology*