General Cognitive Ability and the Psychological Refractory Period: Individual Differences in the Mind's Bottleneck

James J. Lee, Christopher F. Chabris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Identifying the precise locus of general cognitive ability (g) in the flow of information between perception and action is an important goal of differential psychology. To localize the negative correlation between g and reaction time to a specific processing stage, we administered a speeded number-comparison task to two groups differing in average g. The participants had to respond to two stimuli in each trial, which produced the well-known slowing of the second reaction time known as the psychological refractory period. The difference in the second reaction time favoring the high-g group doubled as the stimulus onsets became very close together. This finding affirms that the faster reaction times of higher-g individuals reflect an advantage exclusively in the serial bottleneck of central processing and not in the parallel peripheral stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1226-1233
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Volume24
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Unz Foundation and the Harvard Department of Psychology Restricted Funds for their support.

Keywords

  • diffusion models
  • intelligence
  • psychological refractory period
  • reaction time

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