Testing a Cognitive Control Model of Human Intelligence

Yu Chen, Alfredo Spagna, Tingting Wu, Tae Hyeong Kim, Qiong Wu, Caiqi Chen, Yanhong Wu, Jin Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The definition of human intelligence and its underlying psychological constructs have long been debated. Although previous studies have investigated the fundamental cognitive functions determining intellectual abilities, such as the broadly defined executive functions including working memory, the core process has yet to be identified. A potential candidate for such a role might be cognitive control, a psychological construct for the coordination of thoughts and actions under conditions of uncertainty. In this study, we tested a cognitive control model of intellectual ability by examining the association between cognitive control, measured by a perceptual decision-making task and by the attention network test, and general intelligence including components of fluid intelligence (Gf, concerning the ability to solve problems by abstraction) and crystalized intelligence (Gc, related to learning from prior knowledge and experience) measured by the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. We also examined the potential role of cognitive control as a core process involved in another determinant of intellectual abilities, the working memory, measured by the N-back tasks and the working memory complex span tasks. The relationship among intelligence, cognitive control, and working memory was examined using structural equation modeling. Results showed that cognitive control shared a large amount of variance with working memory and both measures were strongly associated with Gf and Gc, with a stronger association with Gf than Gc. These findings suggest that cognitive control, serving as a core construct of executive functions, contributes substantially to general intellectual ability, especially fluid intelligence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2898
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing a Cognitive Control Model of Human Intelligence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this