Lesion mapping the four-factor structure of emotional intelligence

Joachim T. Operskalski, Erick J. Paul, Roberto Colom, Aron K. Barbey*, Jordan Grafman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to an individual’s ability to process and respond to emotions, including recognizing the expression of emotions in others, using emotions to enhance thought and decision making, and regulating emotions to drive effective behaviors. Despite their importance for goal-directed social behavior, little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying specific facets of EI. Here, we report findings from a study investigating the neural bases of these specific components for EI in a sample of 130 combat veterans with penetrating traumatic brain injury. We examined the neural mechanisms underlying experiential (perceiving and using emotional information) and strategic (understanding and managing emotions) facets of EI. Factor scores were submitted to voxel-based lesion symptom mapping to elucidate their neural substrates. The results indicate that two facets of EI (perceiving and managing emotions) engage common and distinctive neural systems, with shared dependence on the social knowledge network, and selective engagement of the orbitofrontal and parietal cortex for strategic aspects of emotional information processing. The observed pattern of findings suggests that sub-facets of experiential and strategic EI can be characterized as separable but related processes that depend upon a core network of brain structures within frontal, temporal and parietal cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number649
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberDEC
StatePublished - Dec 10 2015


  • Emotional intelligence
  • Social cognition
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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