Lesion mapping of social problem solving
Aron K. Barbey, Roberto Colom, Erick J. Paul, Aileen Chau, Jeffrey Solomon and Jordan H. Grafman
Accumulating neuroscience evidence indicates that human intelligence is supported by a distributed network of frontal and parietal regions that enable complex, goal-directed behaviour. However, the contributions of this network to social aspects of intellectual function remain to be well characterized. Here, we report a human lesion study (n = 144) that investigates the neural bases of social problem solving (measured by the Everyday Problem Solving Inventory) and examine the degree to which indi- vidual differences in performance are predicted by a broad spectrum of psychological variables, including psychometric intelli- gence (measured by the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale), emotional intelligence (measured by the Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test), and personality traits (measured by the Neuroticism-Extraversion-Openness Personality Inventory). Scores for each variable were obtained, followed by voxel-based lesion–symptom mapping. Stepwise regression analyses re- vealed that working memory, processing speed, and emotional intelligence predict individual differences in everyday problem solving. A targeted analysis of specific everyday problem solving domains (involving friends, home management, consumerism, work, information management, and family) revealed psychological variables that selectively contribute to each. Lesion mapping results indicated that social problem solving, psychometric intelligence, and emotional intelligence are supported by a shared network of frontal, temporal, and parietal regions, including white matter association tracts that bind these areas into a coordi- nated system. The results support an integrative framework for understanding social intelligence and make specific recommen- dations for the application of the Everyday Problem Solving Inventory to the study of social problem solving in health and disease.