Psychology Magazine

Fluid Intelligence and the Locus Coeruleus-norepinephrine System

By Deric Bownds @DericBownds
Tsukahara and Engle suggest that the cognitive mechanisms of fluid intelligence map onto the locus coeruleus–norepinephrine system. I pass on their introductory paragraph (the link takes you to their abstract, which I think is less informative):
In this article, we outline what we see as a potentially important relationship for understanding the biological basis of intelligence: that is, the relationship between fluid intelligence and the locus coeruleus–norepinephrine system. This is largely motivated by our findings that baseline pupil size is related to fluid intelligence; the larger the pupils, the higher the fluid intelligence. The connection to the locus coeruleus is based on research showing that the size of the pupil can be used as an indicator of locus coeruleus activity. A large body of research on the locus coeruleus–norepinephrine system in animal and human studies has shown how this system is critical for an impressively wide range of behaviors and cognitive processes, from regulating sleep/wake cycles, to sensation and perception, attention, learning and memory, decision making, and more. The locus coeruleus–norepinephrine system achieves this primarily through its widespread projection system throughout the cortex, strong connections with the prefrontal cortex, and the effect of norepinephrine at many levels of brain function. Given the broad role of this system in behavior, cognition, and brain function, we propose that the locus coeruleus–norepinephrine system is essential for understanding the biological basis of intelligence.
Fluid intelligence and the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system

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