Flexibility is at the heart of human intelligence

 

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Centuries of study have yielded many theories about how the brain gives rise to human intelligence. Some neuroscientists think intelligence springs from a single region or neural network. Others argue that metabolism or the efficiency with which brain cells make use of essential resources are key. A new theory, published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, makes the case that the brain’s dynamic properties – how it is wired but also how that wiring shifts in response to changing intellectual demands – are the best predictors of intelligence in the human brain.

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Nutrition has benefits for brain network organization

 

 
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Nutrition has been linked to cognitive performance, but researchers have not pinpointed what underlies the connection. A new study by University of Illinois researchers found that monounsaturated fatty acids – a class of nutrients found in olive oils, nuts and avocados – are linked to general intelligence, and that this relationship is driven by the correlation between MUFAs and the organization of the brain’s attention network.

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Firmer, fitter frame linked to firmer, fitter brain

 

Scientists have observed that more aerobically fit individuals have better memories. To investigate this phenomenon, they used magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), which measures the firmness and elasticity of organs, and found that fit individuals had a firmer, more elastic hippocampus—a region of the brain associated with memory. The method could provide early diagnosis and potential interventions in the initial stages of neurodegenerative disease.

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Research at 150 Symposium on Brain Plasticity

 
 

Six teams have been awarded David Dodds Henry Lectureship Funds in support of the culminating research event of the University of Illinois’ Sesquicentennial Celebration. The symposia will highlight Illinois strengths in interdisciplinary research, exploring issues as diverse as human health, race and justice, the arts and the humanities, agriculture and the environment, and the legacy of the land-grant institution.

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Cognitive cross-training enhances learning

 

 
Just as athletes cross-train to improve physical skills, those wanting to enhance cognitive skills can benefit from multiple ways of exercising the brain, according to a comprehensive new study from University of Illinois researchers.

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Brain tissue structure could explain link between fitness and memory

Postdoctoral researcher Hillary Schwarb was the first author of the study.

Professor Aron Barbey led a team that found that the structural integrity of the hippocampus, a region in the brain, could mediate the relationship between fitness and memory.

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Eating Leafy Greens Is Good For Your Brain

Researchers have identified an important link between the consumption of lutein-rich foods and brain health in older adults.

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Barbey and Posner co-edit Special Issue on “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Intelligence”

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Recent innovations in the psychological and brain sciences have advanced our understanding of  human intelligence. Rather than engaging a single brain structure or operating at a fixed level of performance throughout adulthood, emerging evidence indicates that intelligence is mediated by a distributed neural system whose functions can be significantly enhanced by specific types of intervention. Early discoveries in the neurosciences revealed that experience can modify brain structure long after brain development is complete, but we are only now beginning to establish methods to enhance the function of specific brain systems and to optimize core facets of intellectual ability.

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