A neuro-cognitive process model of emotional intelligence

Ryan Smith, William Killgore, Anna Alkozei, Richard D Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The construct of emotional intelligence (EI) broadly reflects the idea that individuals differ in their disposition/ability to adaptively generate, recognize, understand, and regulate the emotions of self and others. However, while the neural processes underlying such differences have begun to receive investigation, no brain-based model of EI has yet been proposed to help guide the design and interpretation of neuroimaging research in this area. In this article, we propose a neural model of EI to fill this need. This model incorporates recent insights from emotion theory, computational neuroscience, and large-scale network models of brain function. It also highlights several domain general processes – including those underlying conceptualization, automatic attention, habit formation, and cognitive control – that offer plausible targets for improving EI with training. Our model offers considerable promise in advancing understanding of intelligent emotional functioning and in guiding future neuroscience research on EI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-151
Number of pages21
JournalBiological Psychology
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Active inference
  • Emotion perception
  • Emotion regulation
  • Emotional awareness
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Neural systems
  • Predictive coding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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