A magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) investigation into brain metabolite correlates of ability emotional intelligence
The neurobiological basis of Emotional Intelligence (EI), which relates to our cognitive capacity to deal with emotions, is yet to be firmly established; although the amygdala and the dlPFC have been identified as two key brain regions required for emotional understanding and management. While proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) has previously been used to examine the in vivo neurochemical processes associated with psychiatric disorders, personality and general intelligence, this technique is yet to be applied to the construct of EI. In the current study, associations between the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT V2.0), the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) and N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and Choline (Cho) concentrations in the amygdala and dlPFC were investigated in thirty healthy participants (15 males with a mean age of 24.9±2.7years; 15 females with a mean age of 25.2±4.5years). A significant association between left dlPFC Cho concentrations and MSCEIT Managing Emotions was found, together with a significant association between left Amygdala Cho concentration and MSCEIT Understanding Emotions. In contrast, NAA resonance was found to be unrelated to ability EI in these regions. Possible interpretations of increased Cho resonance in association with ability EI are discussed, including increased myelin turnover in the amygdala and dlPFC which contributes to enhanced emotional processing.