Intelligence and academic performance: Is it all in your head?

Bottenhorn KL, Bartley JE, Riedel MC, Salo T, Bravo EI, Odean R, Nazareth A, Laird RW, Pruden SM, Sutherland MT, Brewe E, Laird AR, HBM (2020).



Conventional wisdom and ample educational literature suggest that intelligence is related to academic performance. While the search for the underlying biology of intelligence predates modern neuroscience, the neural architecture of intelligence remains largely unknown. Mounting evidence suggests it may be related to connectivity in and efficiency of functional brain networks, which differs between the sexes.

Here, we take a targeted approach to assess what roles, if any, intelligence may play in academic performance. By studying university students enrolled in an introductory physics course, we assessed how intelligence predicts both course performance and physics-related cognition, and how it is supported by individual differences in functional brain networks during physics-related cognition.