Longitudinal changes in the neural oscillatory dynamics underlying abstract reasoning in children and adolescents

Neuroimage. 2022 Jun:253:119094. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.119094. Epub 2022 Mar 16.


Fluid reasoning is the ability to problem solve in the absence of prior knowledge and is commonly conceptualized as "non-verbal" intelligence. Importantly, fluid reasoning abilities rapidly develop throughout childhood and adolescence. Although numerous studies have characterized the neural underpinnings of fluid reasoning in adults, there is a paucity of research detailing the developmental trajectory of this neural processing. Herein, we examine longitudinal changes in the neural oscillatory dynamics underlying fluid intelligence in a sample of typically developing youths. A total of 34 participants age 10 to 16 years-old completed an abstract reasoning task during magnetoencephalography (MEG) on two occasions set one year apart. We found robust longitudinal optimization in theta, beta, and gamma oscillatory activity across years of the study across a distributed network commonly implicated in fluid reasoning abilities. More specifically, activity tended to decrease longitudinally in additional, compensatory areas such as the right lateral prefrontal cortex and increase in areas commonly utilized in mature adult samples (e.g., left frontal and parietal cortices). Importantly, shifts in neural activity were associated with improvements in task performance from one year to the next. Overall, the data suggest a longitudinal shift in performance that is accompanied by a reconfiguration of the functional oscillatory dynamics serving fluid reasoning during this important period of development.

Keywords: Beta; Development; Fluid reasoning; Gamma; Theta.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Magnetoencephalography*
  • Parietal Lobe
  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Problem Solving*