EEG Microstate Correlates of Fluid Intelligence and Response to Cognitive Training

Brain Topogr. 2017 Jul;30(4):502-520. doi: 10.1007/s10548-017-0565-z. Epub 2017 May 10.


The neurobiological correlates of human fluid intelligence (Gf) remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate that spatiotemporal dynamics of EEG activity correlate with baseline measures of Gf and with its modulation by cognitive training. EEG dynamics were assessed in 74 healthy participants by examination of fast-changing, recurring, topographically-defined electric patterns termed "microstates", which characterize the electrophysiological activity of distributed cortical networks. We find that the frequency of appearance of specific brain topographies, spatially associated with visual (microstate B) and executive control (microstate C) networks, respectively, is inversely related to Gf scores. Moreover, changes in Gf scores with cognitive training are inversely correlated with changes in microstate properties, indicating that the changes in brain network dynamics are behaviorally relevant. Finally, we find that cognitive training that increases Gf scores results in a posterior shift in the topography of microstate C. These results highlight the role of fast-changing brain electrical states in individual variability in Gf and in the response to cognitive training.

Keywords: Abstract reasoning; Cognitive training; EEG; Fluid intelligence; Microstates.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis
  • Teaching
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Young Adult