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Reliable activation to novel stimuli predicts higher fluid intelligence

Reliable activation to novel stimuli predicts higher fluid intelligence

Matthew J. Euler, Michael P. Weisend, Rex E. Jung, Robert J. Thoma, Ronald A. Yeo

The ability to reliably respond to stimuli could be an important biological determinant of differences in fluid intelligence (Gf). However, most electrophysiological studies of Gf employ event-related potential (ERP) measures that average brain activity over trials, and hence have limited power to quantify neural variability. Time-frequency analyses can capture cross-trial variation in the phase of neural activity, and thus can help address the importance of neural reliability to differences in Gf. This study recruited a community sample of healthy adults and measured inter-trial phase clustering (ITPC), total spectral power, and ERP amplitudes elicited by Repeated and Novel non-target stimuli during two visual oddball tasks. Condition effects, relations among the EEG measures, and relations with Gf were assessed. Early visual responses to Repeated stimuli elicited higher ITPC, yet only ITPC elicited by Novel stimuli was associated with Gf. Analyses of spectral power further highlighted the contribution of phase consistency to the findings. The link between Gf and reliable responding to changing inputs suggests an important role for flexible resource allocation in fluid intellectual skills.

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