Motivation and emotion/Book/2017/Emotional intelligence neural correlates

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Emotional intelligence neural correlates:
What are the neural correlates of emotional intelligence?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a reasonably new concept of which the cognitive correlations are not widely explored or understood (Gutierrez-Cobo, Cabello & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2016). This concept will be primarily discussed in relation to the Multi-factor Emotional Intelligence Test (Mayer, Caruso and Salovey, 1999). Research on emotional intelligence began with examining the connection with cognitive performance. This exposed a correlation between emotional intelligence, memory and other forms of intelligence such as fluid and crystallised (MacCann, 2010; Mayer, Salovey & Caruso, 2008). However, researchers are now utilising neuroimaging and other techniques to determine the relationship between these, and neurology (Killgore, & Yurgelun-Todd, 2007). Data of this kind has been able to expose the regions of the brain closely linked with emotional intelligence, such as the amygdala (Killgore, & Yurgelun-Todd, 2007).

Definitions and model of EI[edit | edit source]

A clear definition of emotional intelligence has been expressed by Gutierrez-Cobo et al (2016). This is that EI is the general ability to regulate, use, understand, and perceive emotions. A definition by Barbey, Colom and Grafman (2014) also includes this ability to perceive and apply emotions. However, they expand on the concept by including emotional information and knowledge.

In 1997, Mayer and Salovey defined several abilities as aspects of EI that are key to the understanding its application. The first is that EI involves the ability to accurately perceive, express and appraise emotion. The second ability is being able to generate or access feelings when facilitating thought. This is where individuals develop and use emotions to make cognitive processing easier. The third ability is simply being able to understand emotion. The fourth and final ability involves the regulation of emotions in order to personal growth (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). These four abilities will be further discussed as branches of the Multi-factor Emotional Intelligence Test (1999).

Multi-factor emotional intelligence test[edit | edit source]

In 1999, Mayer, Caruso and Salovey developed a form of measure for emotional intelligence (EI). This was produced in a survey response format, which separated further into four branches. These four branches are identifying emotions, facilitation of thought, understanding emotions, and finally managing emotions. Each of the four branches has further subsets. The MEIT (multi-factor emotional intelligence test) is a result of theories previously developed and discussed by Mayer, Caruso and Salovey (1999). A factor differentiating this test from others is that it asks participants to rate their responses. This could involve rating someone's level of happiness or anger, rather than stating if they are simply happy or angry (MacCann, 2010). For example, someone may rate their anger at 4/5 or quite angry; indicating that they're experiencing a high level of anger, but are not at their maximum capacity.

Identifying emotions[edit | edit source]

The branch of identifying emotions assesses the individual's ability to perceive emotions. This is done through the use of photographs of facial expressions, and other sensory stimuli (Aguirre, Sergi & Levy, 2008). For someone to display high EI on this branch, they would need to display that they are able to correctly identify emotions through differing forms of stimuli.

Subsets (Mayer et al., 1999):

  1. Faces
  2. Music
  3. Design; graphic designs
  4. Stories

Facilitating thought[edit | edit source]

The branch of facilitating thought assess the individual's ability to utilise emotions in order to improve cognition (Mayer et al., 1999). Therefore, in order to prove high EI on this branch an individual would need to display the ability to utilise emotions in terms of facilitating thought, specifically in relation to describing emotions and applying them to fictional characters.

Subsets (Mayer et al., 1999):

  1. Synthesia; describe emotional sensations
  2. Biases; applying present mood to fictional characters

Understanding emotions[edit | edit source]

This branch assesses how proficient the individual is at understanding complex emotions. This includes how the emotions transition and progress, and determining how fictional individuals may feel in relation to each other (Aguirre et al., 2008; Mayer et al., 1999). High emotional intelligence would be shown through a high level of understanding of emotions in relation to the four subsets below.

Subsets (Mayer et al., 1999):

  1. Blends; complex emotions made up of several base level emotions
  2. Progressions; how emotions progress over time
  3. Transitions; how emotions make the change from one to another
  4. Perspectives; assess others (fictional) relative to self and each other

Managing emotions[edit | edit source]

Managing emotions not only involves the individual's own emotions, but how they perceive and value that of others (Aguirre et al., 2008). This is done through vignettes of situations and emotions, followed by the participant rating potential strategies. A high level of EI would be shown by a high ability to manage emotions.

Subsets (Mayer et al., 1999):

  1. Self
  2. Others

Quiz 1[edit | edit source]

1 EI involves being able to perceive and understand the emotions of not only yourself, but others also.


2 There are seven branches within the MEIS model.


3 The four subsets of understanding emotions (in the MEIS) include transitions, blends, biases and perspectives.


Neural correlations[edit | edit source]

In the past, emotion and cognition were believed to be separate (Gutierrez-Cobo et al., 2016). However, thinking has now progressed to that of emotions in themselves implying changes in behaviour, physiology and cognition (Lewis, Haviland-Jones & Barrett, 2008). Expanding on this, cognitive tasks themselves are no longer assumed to be the responsibility of one area or neural network, but an interaction of multiple (Barbey, Colom & Gafman, 2014).

Cognitive findings[edit | edit source]

EI has been correlated with many differing memory processes, along with some other forms of intelligence. Research has found emotional intelligence to be correlated with episodic memory (MacCann, Matthews, Zeidner, & Roberts, 2003; Mayer et al., 2008). More specifically within episodic memory, this research has found links to memory of emotional events and in learning. Emotional intelligence has also been correlated with other forms of intelligence. This includes crystallised intelligence and the ability to learn new emotional skills (Aguirre et al., 2008; Boyatzis, Stubbs & Taylor 2002; MacCann, 2010; MacCann et al., 2003; Mikolaczak, Roy, Verstrynge & Luminet, 2009). This can be shown through the findings of Gutierrez-Cobo et al., (2016) who explored cognitive abilities as associated with "hot" and "cool" processes. The "hot" processes were tasks that produced emotional stimuli, whereas the "cool" processes had neutral stimuli. Gutierrez-Cobo et al. (2016) found that participants performed better on cognitive performance tasks when paired with the "hot" processes, suggesting a relationship between emotions and cognition. MacCann (2010) provides some research expanding on this. The results from this study provide evidence that emotional intelligence is a form of intelligence within itself, as distinct from fluid and crystallised intelligence (MacCann, 2010). However, there were many factors relating EI and crystallised intelligence. The research findings just discussed support the theory and application of EI proposed by Mayer et al., (1999) who developed the branch of facilitating thought. In this branch, cognitive processing is proposed as aiding in cognition, and higher thought facilitation correlated with higher EI.

Physiological activity[edit | edit source]

Killgore and Yurgelun-Todd (2007) explain that the amygdala has been shown to be directly related to the perception of emotional stimuli and other emotion related responses. This claim is supported by their research in 2007 where neuroimaging was utilised to observe correlations in EI and neurology. As predicted, Killgore and Yurgelun-Todd (2007) found lower levels of blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) activity in the amygdala of those with higher EI. Lower BOLD activity is associated with higher levels of functioning, and therefore higher EI was correlated with higher amygdala functioning (Killgore, & Yurgelun-Todd, 2007). As a comparison, some areas of the brain believed to be less related to emotional intelligence were also tested for BOLD activity. As suspected, the opposite was seen to be true (high BOLD levels) in the limbic and paralimbic areas such as the insula and hippocampus (Killgore, & Yurgelun-Todd, 2007). High levels of emotional intelligence have also been found to be dependent on the functioning of areas involved with autonomic responses (Freedman, Insel, & Smith, 2000) and emotional identification (Pizzagalli, 2011). The latter would indicate that identifying emotions is a key aspect of EI, just as Mayer et al., (1999) theorised and then put into practice with their identifying emotions branch of the MEIT.

Quiz 2[edit | edit source]

1 EI has been correlated with memory and other forms of intelligence.


2 Limbic and paralimbic functioning has been found to be positively correlated with emotional intelligence.


3 Research by Gutierrez-Cobo et al., (2016) found a correlation between cognitive performance and emotional stimuli.


Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Emotional intelligence has been shown to correlate with several differing neurological factors. This was first explained in terms of the Multi-factor emotional intelligence test (Mayer et al., 1999) in order to better understand emotional intelligence as a concept. This was followed by the four branches of the MEIT, being identifying emotions, understanding and managing emotions, and facilitating thought. From here the research on cognitive correlations was discussed, including that of memory (MacCann et al., 2003; Mayer et al., 2008) and intelligence (Gutierrez-Cobo et al., 2016). This research highlighted that EI not only plays a key role in intelligence and memory, but is its own distinct form of intelligence. Finally, the physiological correlates of EI were discussed. The predominant finding of this being the correlation between the amygdala and emotional intelligence, highlighting that a high functioning amygdala plays a role in high emotional intelligence (Killgore, & Yurgelun-Todd, 2007). This can be supported by low BOLD levels in the amygdala as found by (Killgore, & Yurgelun-Todd, 2007). The physiological correlations of EI can be linked with theories of emotional intelligence, including the facilitating thought and identifying emotion branches of the MEIT (Mayer et al., 1999).

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Aguirre, F., Sergi, M., J., & Levy, C., A. (2008). Emotional intelligence and social functioning in persons with schizotypy. Schizophrenia Research, 104, 255-264. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2008.05.007

Barbey, A., K., Colom, R., & Grafman, J. (2014). Distributed neural system for emotional intelligence revealed by lesion mapping. SCAN, 9, 265-272. doi:10.1093/scan/nss124

Boyatzis, R., E., Stubbs, E., C., & Taylor, S., N. (2002). Learning cognitive and emotional intelligence competencies through graduate management education. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 1, 150-182. doi:10.5465/AMLE.2002.8509345

Freedman, L., J., Insel, T., R., & Smith, Y. (2000). Subcortical projections of area 25 (subgenual cortex) of the macaque monkey. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 421, 172-188.

Gutierrez-Cobo, M., J., Cabello, R., & Fernandez-Berrocal, P. (2016). The relationship between emotional intelligence and cool and hot cognitive processes: A systematic review.Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 10(101), 1-13. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00101

Hoerger, M., Chapman, B., P., Epstein, R., M., & Duberstein, P., R. (2012). Emotional intelligence: A theoretical framework for individual differences in affective forecasting. Emotion, 12(4), 716-725. doi:10.1037/a0026724

Killgore, W., D., S., & Yurgelun-Todd, D., A. (2007). Neural correlates of emotional intelligence in adolescent children. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(2), 140-151.

Lewis, M., Haviland-Jones, M., & Barrett, L., F. (2008). Handbook of Emotions. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

MacCan, C. (2010). Further examination of emotional intelligence as a standard intelligence: A latent variable analysis of fluid intelligence, crystallized intelligence, and emotional intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 490-496. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.05.010

MacCann, C., Matthews, G., Zeidner, M., & Roberts, R., D. (2003). Psychological assessment of emotional intelligence: A review of self-report and performance-based testing. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 11, 247-274.

Mayer, J., D., Caruso, D., R., & Salovey, P. (1999). Emotional intelligence meets traditional standards for an intelligence. Intelligence, 27(4), 267-298.

Mayer, J., D., & Salovey, P. (1997). "What is emotional intelligence?", in Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Implications for Educators, eds P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (New York, NY: Basic Books), 3-31.

Mayer, J., D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D., R. (2008). Emotional intelligence: New ability or eclectic traits? American Psychologist, 63, 503-517. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.63.6.503

Mikolajczak, M., Roy, E., Verstrynge, V., & Luminet, O. (2009). An exploration of the moderating effect of trait emotional intelligence on memory and attention in neutral and successful conditions. British Journal of Psychology, 100, 699-715.

Pizzagalli, D., A. (2011). Frotocingulate dysfunction in depression: toward biomarkers of treatment response. Neuropsychopharmacology, 36, 183-206.

Sawaya, H., Johnson, K., Schmidt, M., Arana, A., Chahine, G., Atoui, M., Pincus, D., George, M., S., Panksepp, J., & Nahas, Z. (2015). Resting-state functional connectivity of antero-medial prefrontal cortex sub-regions in major depression and relationship to emotional intelligence. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 1-9. doi:10.1093/ijnp/pyu112

External links[edit | edit source]