Fluid intelligence (gf) represents a crucial component of human cognition, as it correlates with academic achievement, successful aging, and longevity. However, it has strong resilience against enhancement interventions, making the identification of gf enhancement approaches a key unmet goal of cognitive neuroscience. Here, we applied a spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP)-inducing brain stimulation protocol, named cortico-cortical paired associative stimulation (cc-PAS), to modulate gf in 29 healthy young subjects (13 females-mean ± standard deviation, 25.43 years ± 3.69), based on dual-coil transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Pairs of neuronavigated TMS pulses (10-ms interval) were delivered over two frontoparietal nodes of the gf network, based on individual functional magnetic resonance imaging data and in accordance with cognitive models of information processing across the prefrontal and parietal lobe. cc-PAS enhanced accuracy at gf tasks, with parieto-frontal and fronto-parietal stimulation significantly increasing logical and relational reasoning, respectively. Results suggest the possibility of using SPTD-inducing TMS protocols to causally validate cognitive models by selectively engaging relevant networks and manipulating inter-regional temporal dynamics supporting specific cognitive functions.
Keywords: Hebbian plasticity; abstract reasoning; fluid intelligence; logical reasoning; transcranial magnetic stimulation.
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