Individual differences in cortical processing speed predict cognitive abilities: A model-based cognitive neuroscience account

Abstract

Previous research has shown that individuals with greater cognitive abilities display a greater speed of higher-order cognitive processing. These results suggest that speeded neural information processing may facilitate evidence accumulation during decision making and memory updating and thus yield advantages in general cognitive abilities. We used a hierarchical Bayesian cognitive modeling approach to test the hypothesis that individual differences in the velocity of evidence accumulation mediate the relationship between neural processing speed and cognitive abilities. We found that a higher neural speed predicted both the velocity of evidence accumulation across behavioral tasks and cognitive ability test scores. However, only a negligible part of the association between neural processing speed and cognitive abilities was mediated by individual differences in the velocity of evidence accumulation. The model demonstrated impressive forecasting abilities by predicting 36% of individual variation in cognitive ability test scores in an entirely new sample solely based on their electrophysiological and behavioral data. Our results suggest that individual differences in neural processing speed might affect a plethora of higher-order cognitive processes, that only in concert explain the large association between neural processing speed and cognitive abilities, instead of the effect being entirely explained by differences in evidence accumulation speeds.

Bibtex

@article{schubert_etal:2019:neuroscience,
    title   = {{I}ndividual differences in cortical processing speed predict cognitive abilities: {A} model-based cognitive neuroscience account},
    author  = {Schubert, Anna-Lena and Nunez, Michael and Hagemann, Dirk and Vandekerckhove, Joachim},
    year    = {2019},
    journal = {Computational Brain \& Behavior},
    volume  = {2},
    pages   = {64--84}
}