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      Intellectual ability and cortical development in children and adolescents

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      Nature

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Children who are adept at any one of the three academic 'R's (reading, writing and arithmetic) tend to be good at the others, and grow into adults who are similarly skilled at diverse intellectually demanding activities. Determining the neuroanatomical correlates of this relatively stable individual trait of general intelligence has proved difficult, particularly in the rapidly developing brains of children and adolescents. Here we demonstrate that the trajectory of change in the thickness of the cerebral cortex, rather than cortical thickness itself, is most closely related to level of intelligence. Using a longitudinal design, we find a marked developmental shift from a predominantly negative correlation between intelligence and cortical thickness in early childhood to a positive correlation in late childhood and beyond. Additionally, level of intelligence is associated with the trajectory of cortical development, primarily in frontal regions implicated in the maturation of intelligent activity. More intelligent children demonstrate a particularly plastic cortex, with an initial accelerated and prolonged phase of cortical increase, which yields to equally vigorous cortical thinning by early adolescence. This study indicates that the neuroanatomical expression of intelligence in children is dynamic.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Automatic 3D Intersubject Registration of MR Volumetric Data in Standardized Talairach Space

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            Critical period regulation.

             Takao Hensch (2003)
            Neuronal circuits are shaped by experience during critical periods of early postnatal life. The ability to control the timing, duration, and closure of these heightened levels of brain plasticity has recently become experimentally accessible, especially in the developing visual system. This review summarizes our current understanding of known critical periods across several systems and species. It delineates a number of emerging principles: functional competition between inputs, role for electrical activity, structural consolidation, regulation by experience (not simply age), special role for inhibition in the CNS, potent influence of attention and motivation, unique timing and duration, as well as use of distinct molecular mechanisms across brain regions and the potential for reactivation in adulthood. A deeper understanding of critical periods will open new avenues to "nurture the brain"-from international efforts to link brain science and education to improving recovery from injury and devising new strategies for therapy and lifelong learning.
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              Why g matters: The complexity of everyday life

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                March 2006
                March 2006
                : 440
                : 7084
                : 676-679
                Article
                10.1038/nature04513
                16572172
                © 2006

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