Aron K. Barbey

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Aron K. Barbey
Aron Barbey at the Beckman Institute July 2014.jpg
Beckman Institute
ResidenceUrbana, Illinois
Nationality United States
Alma materEmory University National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Known forINSIGHT: A Comprehensive Brain Training System[1][2][3]
Scientific career
FieldsCognitive neuroscience Cognitive neuropsychology
InstitutionsBeckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Aron Keith Barbey (born January 6, 1977) is an American cognitive neuroscientist, whose research investigates the neural architecture of human intelligence.[4][5] His research group examines the beneficial effects of cognitive neuroscience, physical fitness, and nutritional interventions on brain health and intelligence across the lifespan.[6] Barbey is Associate Professor in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Bioengineering at the University of Illinois, and Director of the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science of Technology.[4][6] Barbey's Decision Neuroscience Laboratory is supported by several large-scale private and federal research grants and contracts, including a contract for $12.7 million from the Director of National Intelligence's research agency, IARPA.[2][3] Barbey currently leads the Intelligence, Learning, and Plasticity (ILP) Initiative at the Beckman Institute.


Aron Barbey received a Ph.D. in Psychology from Emory University in 2007.[4][non-primary source needed] From 2007-2011 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Cognitive Neuroscience Section of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health.[4][5]

Professional Activities[edit]

Aron Barbey is Associate Editor of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Barbey is also on the Editorial Board of NeuroImage,[7] Intelligence,[8] and Thinking & Reasoning.[9]


Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Intelligence[edit]

Barbey’s research investigates the effects of human brain damage on intellectual and social functions, with particular emphasis on the prefrontal cortex.[4][5] Studies of patients with frontal lobe damage have a long history in the neuroscience of intelligence and provide a direct way to test whether regions within the prefrontal cortex are necessary for specific intellectual abilities. However, it was only recently that the limited applicability and specificity of small sample studies of focal brain damage were overcome by contemporary lesion mapping approaches.[10][11] In a series of studies,[5] Barbey's research group investigated almost 200 patients with focal brain injuries and mapped the architecture of executive, social, and emotional brain systems. His research has helped to identify and characterize the neural systems underlying general intelligence,[12][13] emotional intelligence,[14][15] social intelligence,[16] fluid intelligence,[17] working memory,[18] cognitive flexibility,[19] and discourse comprehension.[20] Barbey's research has also revealed molecular genetic markers that predict general intelligence following traumatic brain injury.[21][22]

Cognitive Neuroscience Methods to Enhance Human Intelligence[edit]

A central goal of Barbey's research is to establish and validate cognitive neuroscience-directed interventions to enhance human intelligence. In this effort, Barbey's research group has evaluated the efficacy of a 16-week cognitive neuroscience, physical fitness, and nutritional intervention in the IARPA-sponsored INSIGHT project.[2][3]


  1. ^ "IARPA Launches New Research Program to Significantly Improve Adaptive Reasoning and Problem-Solving". Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.
  2. ^ a b c Kamen, Al (Jan 2014). "Feeling foggy? Intelligence chief James Clapper is brewing a $12 million elixir for you!". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ a b c Hurley, Dan (March 2014). "U.S. Military Leads Quest for Futuristic Ways to Boost IQ".
  4. ^ a b c d e Reilly, Maeve. "Faculty Profile: Aron Barbey". Beckman Institute. Beckman Institute.
  5. ^ a b c d Anthes, Emily. "Vietnam's Neuroscientific Legacy". Elements. The New Yorker. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b Noonan, David. "How to Plug In Your Brain". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution.
  7. ^ NeuroImage. NeuroImage. Elsevier.
  8. ^ Intelligence. Intelligence. Elsevier.
  9. ^ "Thinking & Reasoning". Taylor & Francis Online. Taylor & Francis Group.
  10. ^ Bates, Elizabeth; Wilson, Stephen M.; Saygin, Ayse Pinar; Dick, Frederic; Sereno, Martin I.; Knight, Robert T.; Dronkers, Nina F. (2003). "Voxel-based lesion–symptom mapping". Nature Neuroscience. 6 (5): 448–450. doi:10.1038/nn1050. PMID 12704393.
  11. ^ Glascher, J.; Rudrauf, D.; Colom, R.; Paul, L. K.; Tranel, D.; Damasio, H.; Adolphs, R. (2010). "Distributed neural system for general intelligence revealed by lesion mapping" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (10): 4705–4709. doi:10.1073/pnas.0910397107. PMC 2842050. PMID 20176936.
  12. ^ Barbey, Aron K.; Colom, Roberto; Solomon, Jeffrey; Krueger, Frank; Forbes, Chad; Grafman, Jordan (2012). "An integrative architecture for general intelligence and executive function revealed by lesion mapping". Brain. 135 (4): 1154–1164. doi:10.1093/brain/aws021. PMC 3326251. PMID 22396393.
  13. ^ Haupt, Angela (April 2012). "Researchers Map Brain Regions Linked to Intelligence". US News and World Report. Health News.
  14. ^ Barbey, Aron K.; Colom, Roberto; Grafman, Jordan (Mar 2014). "Distributed neural system for emotional intelligence revealed by lesion mapping". Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 9 (3): 265–272. doi:10.1093/scan/nss124. PMC 3980800. PMID 23171618.
  15. ^ Haupt, Angela (Jan 2013). "Scientists Complete 1st Map of 'Emotional Intelligence' in the Brain". US News and World Report. Health News.
  16. ^ Barbey, A. K.; Colom, R.; Paul, E. J.; Chau, A.; Solomon, J.; Grafman, J. H. (2014). "Lesion mapping of social problem solving". Brain. 137 (Pt 10): 2823–2833. doi:10.1093/brain/awu207. PMC 4163035. PMID 25070511.
  17. ^ Barbey, Aron K.; Colom, Roberto; Paul, Erick J.; Grafman, Jordan (2014). "Architecture of fluid intelligence and working memory revealed by lesion mapping". Brain Structure and Function. 219 (2): 485–494. doi:10.1007/s00429-013-0512-z. PMID 23392844.
  18. ^ Barbey, Aron K.; Koenigs, Michael; Grafman, Jordan (May 2013). "Dorsolateral prefrontal contributions to human working memory". Cortex. 49 (5): 1195–1205. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2012.05.022. PMC 3495093. PMID 22789779.
  19. ^ Barbey, Aron K.; Colom, Roberto; Grafman, Jordan (2013). "Architecture of cognitive flexibility revealed by lesion mapping". NeuroImage. 82: 547–554. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.087. PMC 3790579. PMID 23721727.
  20. ^ Barbey, Aron K.; Colom, Roberto; Grafman, Jordan (2014). "Neural mechanisms of discourse comprehension: a human lesion study". Brain. 137 (1): 277–287. doi:10.1093/brain/awt312. PMC 3954106. PMID 24293267.
  21. ^ Barbey, Aron K.; Colom, Roberto; Paul, Erick; Forbes, Chad; Krueger, Frank; Goldman, David; Grafman, Jordan; Zhou, Renping (2014). "Preservation of General Intelligence following Traumatic Brain Injury: Contributions of the Met66 Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor". PLoS ONE. 9 (2): e88733. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088733. PMC 3935849. PMID 24586380.
  22. ^ Sukel, Kayt (April 2014). "Gene Variants May Help Predict Recovery from TBI and PTSD". Dana Foundation.

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