Neural substrates of fluid reasoning: An fMRI study of neocortical activation during performance of the Raven's Progressive Matrices Test

Vivek Prabhakaran, Jennifer A.L. Smith, John E. Desmond, Gary H. Glover, John D.E. Gabrieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We examined brain activation, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging, during problem solving in seven young, healthy participants. Participants solved problems selected from the Raven's Progressive Matrices Test, a test known to predict performance on a wide range of reasoning tasks. In three conditions, participants solved problems requiring (1) analytic reasoning; (2) figural or visuospatial reasoning; or (3) simple pattern matching that served as a perceptual-motor control. Right frontal and bilateral parietal regions were activated more by figural than control problems. Bilateral frontal and left parietal, occipital, and temporal regions were activated more by analytic than figural problems. All of these regions were activated more by analytic than match problems. Many of these activations occurred in regions associated with working memory. Figural reasoning activated areas involved in spatial and object working memory. Analytic reasoning activated additional areas involved in verbal working memory and domain-independent associative and executive processes. These results suggest that fluid reasoning is mediated by a composite of working memory systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-63
Number of pages21
JournalCognitive Psychology
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

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