Cognitive Neuroscience - Intelligence


Raffaella Rumiati

Amount of frontal teaching: 

~16 hours



Cognitive and non-cognitive factors influencing academic and life outcomes, and normal and pathological aging and the role of intelligence

Raffaella I. Rumiati, SISSA office 341,,

The course will take place in room 139

Lecture 1. Introduction to Intelligence

  1. Early definitions of intelligence: single factor vs multiple factors
  2. Construct validity and construct reliability
  3. Scientific definitions of intelligence (Francis Galton, James McKeen Cattell, Alfred Binet, Henry Goddard, Lewis Terman, Robert Yerkes)
  4. The origin of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests
  5. The early tests: Binet and Simon’s scales, Stanford-Binet scale, the Alpha and Beta tests


Lecture 2. Testing intelligence

  1. Use and misuse of IQ
  2. Main IQ tests
  3. The Wechsler tests: WAIS and WISC
  4. Raven’s Matrices
  5. Comparing Raven and Wechsler


Lecture 3. General Intelligence

  1. Crystallized (Gc), spatial (Gv) and fluid (Gf) abilities
  2. General intelligence (g): Spearman’s two-factor theory
  3. Factor analytic approach
  4. Thurstone’s primary mental ability
  5. Guttman’s radix model
  6. Gs or speed and efficiency of information processing


Lecture 4. Rise and fall of intelligence?

  1. The Flynn effect: General features
  2. Differences in the Flynn effect between verbal and non-verbal tests                                                      
  3. The stability, development and decline of IQ
  4. Cross-sectional studies and longitudinal studies


Lecture 5. Multiple intelligences

  1. Criteria to identify these particular intelligences
  2. Intelligences, talents and skills?
  3. Independence
  4. Against Gardner’s theory
  5. Signs of intelligence
  6. Modularity and localization of function
  7. Social intelligence
  8. Emotional intelligence


Lecture 6. Brain & Intelligence

  1. Brain size
  2. Correlation between head size and IQ
  3. Brain size with MR and CT-Scans
  4. Neuroanatomical Correlates of Intelligence
  5. Global, regional and local findings of tissue-based intelligence correlates
  6. Cortical thickness & cortical convolution
  7. A distributed brain network for human intelligence
  8. A neural basis for general intelligence


Lecture 7. Intelligence and neuropsychological deficits

  1. Brief introduction to neuropsychology
  2. Dysexectutive Syndrome
  3. Frontal patients’ deficits
  4. Tests used (Stroop test, Winsconsin Card Sorting Test)
  5. Fractioning of frontal functions
  6. IQ and frontal lobe
  7. Other neuropsychological syndromes with frontal deficits


Lecture 8. Cognitive capitalism: Factors that can influence intelligence

  1. Human capital
  2. Educational attainment
  3. Socio economic effect (SE)
  4. Family background (FB)
  5. Social Class
  6. Sex
  7. Group differences


Lecture 9. Cognitive and non-cognitive skills

  1. Large scale achievement tests
  2. Personality: Big Five
  3. Other non-cognitive skills


Lecture 10. Heritability

  1. Education and genetics
  2. Intelligence and genetics
  3. Exceptional accomplishment & expertise


Lecture 11. Cognitive and brain reserve

  1. Normal and pathological ageing
  2. Individual differences in tumor patients


Final test