Brain volume and intelligence: The moderating role of intelligence measurement quality

Gilles E. Gignac, Timothy C. Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A substantial amount of empirical research has estimated the association between brain volume and intelligence. The most recent meta-analysis (Pietschnig, Penke, Wicherts, Zeiler, & Voracek, 2015) reported a correlation of.24 between brain volume and intelligence – notably lower than previous meta-analytic estimates. This headline meta-analytic result was based on a mixture of samples (healthy and clinical) and sample correlations not corrected for range restriction. Additionally, the role of IQ assessment quality was not considered. Finally, evidential value of the literature was not formally evaluated. Based on the results of our meta-analysis of the Pietschnig et al.'s sample data, the corrected correlation between brain volume and intelligence in healthy adult samples was r =.31 (k = 32; N = 1758). Furthermore, the quality of intelligence measurement was found to moderate the effect between brain volume and intelligence (b =.08, p =.028). Investigations that used ‘fair’, ‘good’, and ‘excellent’ measures of intelligence yielded corrected brain volume and intelligence correlations of.23 (k = 9; N = 547),.32 (k = 10; N = 646), and.39 (k = 13; N = 565), respectively. The Henmi/Copas adjusted confidence intervals, the p-uniform results, and the p-curve results failed to suggest evidence of publication bias and/or p-hacking. The results were interpreted to suggest that the association between in vivo brain volume and intelligence is arguably best characterised as r ≈.40. Researchers are encouraged to consider intelligence measurement quality in future meta-analyses, based on the guidelines provided in this investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalIntelligence
Volume64
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

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