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Dissecting the chain of information processing and its interplay with neurochemicals and fluid intelligence across development

George Zacharopoulos, Francesco Sella, Uzay Emir Orcid Logo, Roi Cohen Kadosh

eLife, Volume: 12

Swansea University Author: George Zacharopoulos

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DOI (Published version): 10.7554/elife.84086

Abstract

Previous research has highlighted the role of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in perceptual, cognitive, and motor tasks. However, the exact involvement of these neurochemical mechanisms in the chain of information processing, and across human development, is unclear. In a cross-sectiona...

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Published in: eLife
ISSN: 2050-084X
Published: eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd 2023
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa64574
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Abstract: Previous research has highlighted the role of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in perceptual, cognitive, and motor tasks. However, the exact involvement of these neurochemical mechanisms in the chain of information processing, and across human development, is unclear. In a cross-sectional longitudinal design, we used a computational approach to dissociate cognitive, decision, and visuomotor processing in 293 individuals spanning early childhood to adulthood. We found that glutamate and GABA within the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) explained unique variance in visuomotor processing, with higher glutamate predicting poorer visuomotor processing in younger participants but better visuomotor processing in mature participants, while GABA showed the opposite pattern. These findings, which were neurochemically, neuroanatomically and functionally specific, were replicated ~21 mo later and were generalized in two further different behavioral tasks. Using resting functional MRI, we revealed that the relationship between IPS neurochemicals and visuomotor processing is mediated by functional connectivity in the visuomotor network. We then extended our findings to high-level cognitive behavior by predicting fluid intelligence performance. We present evidence that fluid intelligence performance is explained by IPS GABA and glutamate and is mediated by visuomotor processing. However, this evidence was obtained using an uncorrected alpha and needs to be replicated in future studies. These results provide an integrative biological and psychological mechanistic explanation that links cognitive processes and neurotransmitters across human development and establishes their potential involvement in intelligent behavior.
Keywords: GABA; computational biology; development; fluid intelligence; frontoparietal network; glutamate; human; neuroscience; systems biology; visuomotor processing.
College: Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
Funders: European Research Council, Wellcome Trust