Psicothema was founded in Asturias (northern Spain) in 1989, and is published jointly by the Psychology Faculty of the University of Oviedo and the Psychological Association of the Principality of Asturias (Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos del Principado de Asturias).
We currently publish four issues per year, which accounts for some 100 articles annually. We admit work from both the basic and applied research fields, and from all areas of Psychology, all manuscripts being anonymously reviewed prior to publication.

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Psicothema, 2009. Vol. Vol. 21 (nº 3). 403-408

Neuroticism, intelligence, and intra-individual variability in elementary cognitive tasks: Testing the mental noise hypothesis

Roberto Colom and Mª Ángeles Quiroga*

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and * Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Some studies show positive correlations between intraindividual variability in elementary speed measures (reflecting processing efficiency) and individual differences in neuroticism (reflecting instability in behaviour). The so-called neural noise hypothesis assumes that higher levels of noise are related both to smaller indices of processing efficiency and greater levels of neuroticism. Here, we test this hypothesis measuring mental speed by means of three elementary cognitive tasks tapping similar basic processes but varying systematically their content (verbal, numerical, and spatial). Neuroticism and intelligence are also measured. The sample comprised 196 undergraduate psychology students. The results show that (1) processing efficiency is generally unrelated to individual differences in neuroticism, (2) processing speed and efficiency correlate with intelligence, and (3) only the efficiency index is genuinely related to intelligence when the colinearity between speed and efficiency is controlled.

Neuroticismo, inteligencia y variabilidad intra-individual en tareas cognitivas elementales: contraste de la hipótesis del ruido neuronal. Una serie de estudios han observado correlaciones entre la variabilidad intra-individual en medidas de velocidad mental en tareas cognitivas elementales (que expresa la eficiencia de procesamiento) y las diferencias individuales en neuroticismo (que expresa la inestabilidad de la conducta). La conocida como hipótesis del ruido neuronal asume que mayores niveles de ruido se relacionan tanto con menores índices de eficiencia de procesamiento como con mayores niveles de neuroticismo. En este artículo se contrasta esta hipótesis midiendo la velocidad mental mediante tres tareas cognitivas elementales que valoran procesos básicos similares pero que varían sistemáticamente su contenido (verbal, numérico y espacial). También se mide el neuroticismo y la inteligencia. La muestra estuvo compuesta por 196 estudiantes de psicología. Los resultados indican que (1) la eficiencia de procesamiento no se relaciona con las diferencias individuales en neuroticismo, (2) tanto la velocidad como la eficiencia de procesamiento correlacionan con la inteligencia y (3) solamente el índice de eficiencia se relaciona genuinamente con la inteligencia cuando se controla la co-linealidad entre velocidad y eficiencia.


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