Recent evidence shows that event-related (upper) alpha desynchronization (ERD) is related to cognitive performance. Several studies observed a positive, some a negative relationship. The latter finding, interpreted in terms of the neural efficiency hypothesis, suggests that good performance is associated with a more 'efficient', smaller extent of cortical activation. Other studies found that ERD increases with semantic processing demands and that this increase is larger for good performers. Studies supporting the neural efficiency hypothesis used tasks that do not specifically require semantic processing. Thus, we assume that the lack of semantic processing demands may at least in part be responsible for the reduced ERD. In the present study we measured ERD during a difficult verbal-semantic task. The findings demonstrate that during semantic processing, more intelligent (as compared to less intelligent) subjects exhibited a significantly larger upper alpha ERD over the left hemisphere. We conclude that more intelligent subjects exhibit a more extensive activation in a semantic processing system and suggest that divergent findings regarding the neural efficiency hypotheses are due to task specific differences in semantic processing demands. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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