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Special Issue "g and Its Underlying Executive Processes"

A special issue of Journal of Intelligence (ISSN 2079-3200).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Stefan J. Troche
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Psychology, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
Interests: mental speed; attention; psychometric intelligence; temporal information processing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

according to Kovacs and Conway's (2016) process overlap theory (POT), the g factor of psychometric intelligence is the result of overlapping domain-general executive processes. Such overlapping processes would result in a pattern of positive correlations between different tests of intelligence in the sense of the positive manifold. More specifically, some executive processes underlie the correlation between intelligence tests a and b, but other executive processes lead to a correlation between intelligence tests a and c. Thus, POT considers the general factor of psychometric intelligence (g) to be a composition of several (more or less) distinct executive processes instead of a unitary entity.

If different executive processes really explained the unique portions of g variance, this result would support POT. In this case, it would be important to identify these processes and to outline the interplay between these executive processes and, thus, the internal structure of g. Otherwise, if different executive processes explain common, non-unique variance in g, this result would contradict the assumption of POT but not the assumption of a unitary g.

This Special Issue of the Journal of Intelligence will contribute to answering this assumption of POT and will compile investigations considering at least two executive processes and examining their unique and common variance shared with g. The executive processes should be operationalized as unambiguously as possible so that it would be possible to identify the executive processes important for our understanding of g. Two executive processes might be enough to determine the unique and common variance of these processes and g. A more convincing approach, however, would be to examine whether a latent variable can be derived from three or more executive processes and whether single executive processes uniquely explain the variance of g beyond the variance explained by the more general latent variable.

Already Carroll (1991) pointed to the impurity of g suggesting that either an unbalanced selection of tests or method effects might contribute to variance in g, which is actually unrelated to its core. If an executive process, however, is related (uniquely) to such a method effect, this might be erroneously interpreted as support of POT. Thus, papers that investigate possible biases in g and their relation to executive processes are also invited. Furthermore, we may also consider contributions with relevance to POT more in general or to the nature of g more in general. If you have any doubts about whether a planned contribution would fit within the scope as defined above, please contact [email protected].

Authors are invited to contribute manuscripts with new and not yet published data as well as with re-analyzed data, which might have been published previously to answer another research question.

Prof. Dr. Stefan J. Troche
Guest Editor

References

Carroll, J. B. (1991). No demonstration that g is not unitary, but there’s more to the story: comment on Kranzler and Jensen. Intelligence, 15, 423–436.

Kovacs, K. & Conway, A. R. A. (2016). Process Overlap Theory: A unified account of the general factor of intelligence. Psychological Inquiry, 27, 151–177.

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Intelligence is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Article
In Search of the Executive Cognitive Processes Proposed by Process-Overlap Theory
J. Intell. 2021, 9(3), 43; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9030043 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 467
Abstract
Process-Overlap Theory (POT) suggests that measures of cognitive abilities sample from sets of independent cognitive processes. These cognitive processes can be separated into domain-general executive processes, sampled by the majority of cognitive ability measures, and domain-specific processes, sampled only by measures within a [...] Read more.
Process-Overlap Theory (POT) suggests that measures of cognitive abilities sample from sets of independent cognitive processes. These cognitive processes can be separated into domain-general executive processes, sampled by the majority of cognitive ability measures, and domain-specific processes, sampled only by measures within a certain domain. According to POT, fluid intelligence measures are related because different tests sample similar domain-general executive cognitive processes to some extent. Re-analyzing data from a study by De Simoni and von Bastian (2018), we assessed domain-general variance from executive processing tasks measuring inhibition, shifting, and efficiency of removal from working memory, as well as examined their relation to a domain-general factor extracted from fluid intelligence measures. The results showed that domain-general factors reflecting general processing speed were moderately and negatively correlated with the domain-general fluid intelligence factor (r = −.17–−.36). However, domain-general factors isolating variance specific to inhibition, shifting, and removal showed only small and inconsistent correlations with the domain-general fluid intelligence factor (r = .02–−.22). These findings suggest that (1) executive processing tasks sample only few domain-general executive processes also sampled by fluid intelligence measures, as well as (2) that domain-general speed of processing contributes more strongly to individual differences in fluid intelligence than do domain-general executive processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue g and Its Underlying Executive Processes)
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Article
Do Executive Attentional Processes Uniquely or Commonly Explain Psychometric g and Correlations in the Positive Manifold? A Structural Equation Modeling and Network-Analysis Approach to Investigate the Process Overlap Theory
J. Intell. 2021, 9(3), 37; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9030037 - 15 Jul 2021
Viewed by 487
Abstract
One of the best-established findings in intelligence research is the pattern of positive correlations among various intelligence tests. Although this so-called positive manifold became the conceptual foundation of many theoretical accounts of intelligence, the very nature of it has remained unclear. Only recently, [...] Read more.
One of the best-established findings in intelligence research is the pattern of positive correlations among various intelligence tests. Although this so-called positive manifold became the conceptual foundation of many theoretical accounts of intelligence, the very nature of it has remained unclear. Only recently, Process Overlap Theory (POT) proposed that the positive manifold originated from overlapping domain-general, executive processes. To test this assumption, the functional relationship between different aspects of executive attention and the positive manifold was investigated by re-analyzing an existing dataset (N = 228). Psychometric reasoning, speed, and memory performance were assessed by a short form of the Berlin Intelligence Structure test. Two aspects of executive attention (sustained and selective attention) and speed of decision making were measured by a continuous performance test, a flanker task, and a Hick task, respectively. Traditional structural equation modeling, representing the positive manifold by a g factor, as well as network analyses, investigating the differential effects of the two aspects of executive attention and speed of decision making on the specific correlations of the positive manifold, suggested that selective attention, sustained attention, and speed of decision making explained the common but not the unique portions of the positive manifold. Thus, we failed to provide evidence for POT’s assumption that the positive manifold is the result of overlapping domain-general processes. This does not mean that domain-general processes other than those investigated here will not be able to show the pattern of results predicted by POT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue g and Its Underlying Executive Processes)
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Article
Individual Differences in Attention and Intelligence: A United Cognitive/Psychometric Approach
J. Intell. 2021, 9(3), 34; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9030034 - 02 Jul 2021
Viewed by 1131
Abstract
Process overlap theory (POT) is a new theoretical framework designed to account for the general factor of intelligence (g). According to POT, g does not reflect a general cognitive ability. Instead, g is the result of multiple domain-general executive attention processes [...] Read more.
Process overlap theory (POT) is a new theoretical framework designed to account for the general factor of intelligence (g). According to POT, g does not reflect a general cognitive ability. Instead, g is the result of multiple domain-general executive attention processes and multiple domain-specific processes that are sampled in an overlapping manner across a battery of intelligence tests. POT explains several benchmark findings on human intelligence. However, the precise nature of the executive attention processes underlying g remains unclear. In the current paper, we discuss challenges associated with building a theory of individual differences in attention and intelligence. We argue that the conflation of psychological theories and statistical models, as well as problematic inferences based on latent variables, impedes research progress and prevents theory building. Two studies designed to illustrate the unique features of POT relative to previous approaches are presented. In Study 1, a simulation is presented to illustrate precisely how POT accounts for the relationship between executive attention processes and g. In Study 2, three datasets from previous studies are reanalyzed (N = 243, N = 234, N = 945) and reveal a discrepancy between the POT simulated model and the unity/diversity model of executive function. We suggest that this discrepancy is largely due to methodological problems in previous studies but also reflects different goals of research on individual differences in attention. The unity/diversity model is designed to facilitate research on executive function and dysfunction associated with cognitive and neural development and disease. POT is uniquely suited to guide and facilitate research on individual differences in cognitive ability and the investigation of executive attention processes underlying g. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue g and Its Underlying Executive Processes)
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Article
How Executive Processes Explain the Overlap between Working Memory Capacity and Fluid Intelligence: A Test of Process Overlap Theory
J. Intell. 2021, 9(2), 21; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9020021 - 06 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1048
Abstract
Working memory capacity (WMC) and fluid intelligence (Gf) are highly correlated, but what accounts for this relationship remains elusive. Process-overlap theory (POT) proposes that the positive manifold is mainly caused by the overlap of domain-general executive processes which are involved in a battery [...] Read more.
Working memory capacity (WMC) and fluid intelligence (Gf) are highly correlated, but what accounts for this relationship remains elusive. Process-overlap theory (POT) proposes that the positive manifold is mainly caused by the overlap of domain-general executive processes which are involved in a battery of mental tests. Thus, executive processes are proposed to explain the relationship between WMC and Gf. The current study aims to (1) achieve a relatively purified representation of the core executive processes including shifting and inhibition by a novel approach combining experimental manipulations and fixed-links modeling, and (2) to explore whether these executive processes account for the overlap between WMC and Gf. To these ends, we reanalyzed data of 215 university students who completed measures of WMC, Gf, and executive processes. Results showed that the model with a common factor, as well as shifting and inhibition factors, provided the best fit to the data of the executive function (EF) task. These components explained around 88% of the variance shared by WMC and Gf. However, it was the common EF factor, rather than inhibition and shifting, that played a major part in explaining the common variance. These results do not support POT as underlying the relationship between WMC and Gf. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue g and Its Underlying Executive Processes)
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Article
Binding Costs in Processing Efficiency as Determinants of Cognitive Ability
J. Intell. 2021, 9(2), 18; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9020018 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 771
Abstract
Performance in elementary cognitive tasks is moderately correlated with fluid intelligence and working memory capacity. These correlations are higher for more complex tasks, presumably due to increased demands on working memory capacity. In accordance with the binding hypothesis, which states that working memory [...] Read more.
Performance in elementary cognitive tasks is moderately correlated with fluid intelligence and working memory capacity. These correlations are higher for more complex tasks, presumably due to increased demands on working memory capacity. In accordance with the binding hypothesis, which states that working memory capacity reflects the limit of a person’s ability to establish and maintain temporary bindings (e.g., relations between items or relations between items and their context), we manipulated binding requirements (i.e., 2, 4, and 6 relations) in three choice reaction time paradigms (i.e., two comparison tasks, two change detection tasks, and two substitution tasks) measuring mental speed. Response time distributions of 115 participants were analyzed with the diffusion model. Higher binding requirements resulted in generally reduced efficiency of information processing, as indicated by lower drift rates. Additionally, we fitted bi-factor confirmatory factor analysis to the elementary cognitive tasks to separate basal speed and binding requirements of the employed tasks to quantify their specific contributions to working memory capacity, as measured by Recall−1-Back tasks. A latent factor capturing individual differences in binding was incrementally predictive of working memory capacity, over and above a general factor capturing speed. These results indicate that the relation between reaction time tasks and working memory capacity hinges on the complexity of the reaction time tasks. We conclude that binding requirements and, therefore, demands on working memory capacity offer a satisfactory account of task complexity that accounts for a large portion of individual differences in ability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue g and Its Underlying Executive Processes)
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Brief Report
Advancing the Understanding of the Factor Structure of Executive Functioning
J. Intell. 2021, 9(1), 16; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010016 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 894
Abstract
There has been considerable debate and interest regarding the factor structure of executive functioning (EF). Therefore, the aim of the current study was to delve into this issue differently, by investigating EF and other cognitive constructs, such as working memory capacity (WMC), relational [...] Read more.
There has been considerable debate and interest regarding the factor structure of executive functioning (EF). Therefore, the aim of the current study was to delve into this issue differently, by investigating EF and other cognitive constructs, such as working memory capacity (WMC), relational integration, and divided attention, which may contribute to EF. Here, we examined whether it is possible to provide evidence for a definite model of EF containing the components of updating, shifting, and inhibition. For this purpose, 202 young adults completed a battery of EF, three WMC tests, three relational integration tests, and two divided attention tests. A confirmatory factor analysis on all the cognitive abilities produced a five-factor structure, which included one factor predominately containing shifting tasks, the next factor containing two updating tasks, the third one predominately representing WMC, the fourth factor consisting of relational integration and antisaccade tasks, and finally, the last factor consisting of the divided attention and stop signal tasks. Lastly, a subsequent hierarchical model supported a higher-order factor, thereby representing general cognitive ability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue g and Its Underlying Executive Processes)
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