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Soc Neurosci. 2017 Oct 31:1-16. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2017.1397054. [Epub ahead of print]

Modulating affective experience and emotional intelligence with loving kindness meditation and transcranial direct current stimulation: A pilot study.

Author information

1
a The Psychology Clinical Neuroscience Center, Department of Psychology , University of New Mexico , Albuquerque , NM , USA.
2
b Department of Psychology , The University of Chicago , Chicago , IL , USA.
3
e Human Research and Engineering Directorate , U.S. Army Research Laboratory , Adelphi , MD , USA.
4
c Department of Psychiatry , The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine , Pittsburgh , PA , USA.
5
d Department of Biomedical Engineering , The City University of New York , New York , NY , USA.

Abstract

Positive emotional perceptions and healthy emotional intelligence (EI) are important for social functioning. In this study, we investigated whether loving kindness meditation (LKM) combined with anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) would facilitate improvements in EI and changes in affective experience of visual stimuli. LKM has been shown to increase positive emotional experiences and we hypothesized that tDCS could enhance these effects. Eighty-seven undergraduates were randomly assigned to 30 minutes of LKM or a relaxation control recording with anodal tDCS applied to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (left dlPFC) or right temporoparietal junction (right TPJ) at 0.1 or 2.0 milliamps. The primary outcomes were self-reported affect ratings of images from the International Affective Picture System and EI as measured by the Mayer, Salovey and Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test. Results indicated no effects of training on EI, and no main effects of LKM, electrode placement, or tDCS current strength on affect ratings. There was a significant interaction of electrode placement by meditation condition (p = 0.001), such that those assigned to LKM and right TPJ tDCS, regardless of current strength, rated neutral and positive images more positively after training. Results suggest that LKM may enhance positive affective experience.

KEYWORDS:

Loving kindness meditation; affective experience; emotional intelligence; positive affect; transcranial direct current stimulation

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