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General cognitive ability, sometimes referred to as intelligence, is associated with educational attainment throughout childhood. Most studies that have explored the neural correlates of intelligence in childhood focus on individual brain regions. This analytical approach is designed to identify restricted sets of voxels that overlap across participants. By contrast, we explored the relationship between white matter connectome organization, intelligence, and education. In both a sample of typically-developing children (N = 63) and a sample of struggling learners (N = 139), the white matter connectome efficiency was strongly associated with intelligence and educational attainment. Further, intelligence partially mediated the relationship between connectome efficiency and educational attainment. In contrast, a canonical voxel-wise analysis failed to identify any significant relationships. The results emphasize the importance of distributed brain network properties for cognitive or educational ability in childhood. Our findings are interpreted in the context of a developmental theory, which emphasizes the interaction between different subsystems over developmental time.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Neurosci Educ

Publication Date





38 - 47


Child development, Connectome, Education, Intelligence, White matter