By studying the injuries and aptitudes of Vietnam War veterans who suffered penetrating head wounds during the war, researchers have found that brain regions that contribute to optimal social functioning are also vital to general intelligence and emotional intelligence. This finding bolsters the view that general intelligence emerges from the emotional context of one’s life.
“We are trying to understand the nature of general intelligence and to what extent our intellectual abilities are grounded in social cognitive abilities,” said Aron Barbey, a University of Illinois professor of neuroscience, psychology, and speech and hearing science. Barbey, an affiliate of the Beckman Institute and he Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois, led the new study with an international team of collaborators. Studies in social psychology indicate that human intellectual functions originate from the social context of everyday life, Barbey said. “We depend at an early stage of our development on social relationships, those who love us care for us when we would otherwise be helpless.”