“Executive functions” cannot be distinguished from general intelligence: Two variations on a single theme within a symphony of latent variance

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18 Scopus citations

Abstract

The empirical foundation of executive control function (ECF) remains controversial. We have employed structural equation models (SEM) to explicitly distinguish domain-specific variance in executive function (EF) performance from memory (MEM) and shared cognitive performance variance, i.e., Spearman’s “g.” EF does not survive adjustment for both MEM and g in a well fitting model of data obtained from non-demented older persons (N = 193). Instead, the variance in putative EF measures is attributable only to g, and related to functional status only through a fraction of that construct (i.e., “d”). d is a homolog of the latent variable δ, which we have previously associated specifically with the Default Mode Network (DMN). These findings undermine the validity of EF and its putative association with the frontal lobe. ECF may have no existence independent of general intelligence, and no functionally salient association with the frontal lobe outside of that structure’s contribution to the DMN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number369
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume8
Issue numberOCT
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 24 2014

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Cognition
  • Dementia
  • Executive function
  • Functional status
  • G
  • Intelligence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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