A great deal of prior research has examined the relation between estimates of working memory and cognitive abilities. Yet, the neural mechanisms that account for these relations are still not very well understood. The current study explored whether individual differences in working memory delay activity would be a significant predictor of cognitive abilities. A large number of participants performed multiple measures of capacity, attention control, long-term memory, working memory span, and fluid intelligence, and latent variable analyses were used to examine the data. During two working memory change detection tasks, we acquired EEG data and examined the contralateral delay activity. The results demonstrated that the contralateral delay activity was significantly related to cognitive abilities, and importantly these relations were because of individual differences in both capacity and attention control. These results suggest that individual differences in working memory delay activity predict individual differences in a broad range of cognitive abilities, and this is because of both differences in the number of items that can be maintained and the ability to control access to working memory.

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