Neurobiological correlates of emotional intelligence in voice and face perception networks

Published in: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 13, Issue 2, 233-244

“Facial expressions and voice modulations are among the most important communicational signals to convey emotional information. The ability to correctly interpret this information is highly relevant for successful social interaction and represents an integral component of emotional competencies that have been conceptualized under the term emotional intelligence. Here, we investigated the relationship of emotional intelligence as measured with the Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test (MSCEIT) with cerebral voice and face processing using functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging. MSCEIT scores were positively correlated with increased voice-sensitivity and gray matter volume of the insula accompanied by voice-sensitivity enhanced connectivity between the insula and the temporal voice area, indicating generally increased salience of voices. Conversely, in the face processing system, higher MSCEIT scores were associated with decreased face-sensitivity and gray matter volume of the fusiform face area. Taken together, these findings point to an alteration in the balance of cerebral voice and face processing systems in the form of an attenuated face-vs-voice bias as one potential factor underpinning emotional intelligence.”

Written by: Kathrin N. Karle, Thomas Ethofer, Heike Jacob, Carolin Brück, Michael Erb, Martin Lotze, Sophia Nizielski, Astrid Schütz, Dirk Wildgruber, Benjamin Kreifelts

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