Individual Differences in Human Intelligence

Claudia Roebers, Thomas Rammsayer, Stefan Troche, Annik Völke und Felicitas Wagner

Within homogeneous age groups, both children and adults vary substantially in their mental capacity, typically quantified by psychometric intelligence. Contemporary views of human intelligence emphasize that intelligence is a broad and multi-faceted theoretical concept embracing various aspects of information processes. There is ample evidence that components of information processes, such as sensory discrimination, working memory, and/or attention, contribute to human intelligence. In other words, sensory discrimination and/or working memory independently of each other explain substantial portions of overall variability of intelligence within a sample of individuals, their relative contributions when such information processes are investigated simultaneously have only rarely been addressed. Simultaneously studying the contribution of sensory discrimination ability and working memory performance in homogenous age groups is, however, an important approach as these distinguishable aspects of information processing are interrelated and operate together in a complex interplay. Moreover, in the course of human development, performance on these different aspects of information processing undergoes substantial improvements over time (through both maturation and experience), and the mode and the efficiency of their interplay is assumed to change dramatically with increasing age.  

In the present research project, a joint effort is being undertaken by the principle investigators Stefan Troche, Claudia M. Roebers, and Thomas Rammsayer (University of Bern and Center of Cognition, Learning, and Memory) aiming to uncover the relative contributions of sensory discrimination abilities and working memory skills for psychometric intelligence. This will be done both in children and adult samples to shed some light on the changing interplay and the possibly varying relative contribution of sensory discrimination and working memory to intelligence as human development proceeds. The project is financed through the Swiss Science Foundation (Grant No. 100014_137755 / 1).
The expected findings from this research project are important for theoretical advances in the conceptualization and understanding of human intelligence. At the same time, the findings will be of practical relevance, for example, for understanding and treating problems associated with learning difficultiesof children in school or with difficulties in mastering the daily life in old adults.