Network attributes underlying intellectual giftedness in the developing brain

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 12;7(1):11321. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11593-3.


Brain network is organized to maximize the efficiency of both segregated and integrated information processing that may be related to human intelligence. However, there have been surprisingly few studies that focus on the topological characteristics of brain network underlying extremely high intelligence that is intellectual giftedness, particularly in adolescents. Here, we examined the network topology in 25 adolescents with superior intelligence (SI-Adol), 25 adolescents with average intelligence (AI-Adol), and 27 young adults with AI (AI-Adult). We found that SI-Adol had network topological properties of high global efficiency as well as high clustering with a low wiring cost, relative to AI-Adol. However, contrary to the suggested role that brain hub regions play in general intelligence, the network efficiency of rich club connection matrix, which represents connections among brain hubs, was low in SI-Adol in comparison to AI-Adol. Rather, a higher level of local connection density was observed in SI-Adol than in AI-Adol. The highly intelligent brain may not follow this efficient yet somewhat stereotypical process of information integration entirely. Taken together, our results suggest that a highly intelligent brain may communicate more extensively, while being less dependent on rich club communications during adolescence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Young Adult