We tend to think of reason and emotion as being two different things, but it turns out that there may not be a choice between the heart and the head.
A University of Illinois team, led by neuroscience professor Aron Barbey, has made the first detailed 3D map of emotional and general intelligence in the brain, that shows a strong overlap of general and emotional intelligence.
Reason and emotions aren’t opposites, but rather two types of intelligence or, perhaps, two aspects of one intelligence. Reason comes under the heading of general intelligence. That covers higher-order mental processes that include reasoning, attention and perception, and memory and language. Emotions are described as emotional intelligence, which takes in perceiving, immediate processing and applying emotional and social content, information and knowledge.
There are a number of theories about how general and emotional intelligence are related. One generally accepted view is that they’re associated with different parts of the brain, with general intelligence in the prefrontal cortex and emotions residing in the limbic system, which includes the hippocampus and the amygdala. However, there hasn’t been much empirical evidence to support this idea, and the Illinois study indicates that general and emotional intelligence share a great deal of brain real estate.