Fluid intelligence is said to predict educational and professional success, social mobility, health, and longevity. It also correlates with many cognitive abilities such as memory, judgement and attention.
Fluid intelligence remains contentious, with regards to whether it is a single or cluster of cognitive abilities, and the nature of its relationship with the brain.
The new study investigated 227 patients who had suffered either a brain tumour or stroke to specific parts of the brain, using the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM): the best-established test of fluid intelligence. The test contains multiple choice visual pattern problems of increasing difficulty. The researchers introduced a novel ‘lesion-deficit mapping’ approach to disentangle the intricate anatomical patterns of common forms of brain injury, such as stroke.
The researchers found fluid intelligence impaired performance was largely confined to patients with right frontal lesions rather than a wide set of regions distributed across the brain.
Lead author, Professor Cipolotti said: “Our findings indicate for the first time the right frontal regions of the brain are critical to the high-level functions involved in fluid intelligence, such as problem solving and reasoning.”