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Performance on tests of frontal lobe function reflect general intellectual ability

Obonsawin, Marc and Crawford, J. and Page, J. and Chalmers, P. and Cochrane, R. and Low, G. (2002) Performance on tests of frontal lobe function reflect general intellectual ability. Neuropsychologia, 40 (7). pp. 970-977. ISSN 0028-3932

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Abstract

Recent studies have indicated that performance on tests of frontal lobe function are highly associated with general intellectual ability (g). Some authors have even claimed that the available evidence does not support a more specific account of frontal lobe function than to provide a general intellectual function for the performance of goal directed tasks. We examined the relationship between performance on the WAIS-R (as a measure of g) and performance on standard tests of frontal lobe function in 123 healthy individuals. Our results demonstrate that in healthy individuals (i) performance on the most popular tests of frontal lobe function shares significant variance, and (ii) a large proportion of that shared variance is highly associated with performance on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales-Revised (WAIS-R), so that the tests are similar to the extent that they measure g. Performance on the Modified Card Sorting Test (MCST), however, is not related to g. The results support the claim that many tests of frontal lobe function measure primarily a non-specific intellectual function but also indicate that some tests, like the MCST, may be assessing more specific cognitive operations.