There seems to be some confusion about what we mean by ‘processing speed’. Even among scientists and others in the field there are a variety of understandings of the concept, spanning from the speed of neuron-to-neuron communication to how quickly one can access stored memories. In this article, neuroscientist Lizzie Buchen explains brain processing speed and why speed of processing is critical to many other cognitive processes and even intelligence.
Some of the key points covered:
- The speed of performing basic cognitive operations is highly correlated with measures of intelligence.
- Processing speed may affect performance on all higher cognitive tasks
- Decreases in processing speed may be the primary factor underlying cognitive changes that arise with age
Although there may not be one single factor underlying “intelligence,” processing speed and efficiency are among the most basic and pervasive components. Other factors, including working memory and executive functions, are also likely to be involved.