The impact of executive functions and emotional intelligence on Iowa Gambling Task performance: Focus on right frontal lobe damage

Abstract

Decision-making under uncertainty in the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) has been intensively studied over the last twenty years regarding both “hot” and “cold” components. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex is a key region involved in processing somatic marker information, though recent findings suggest that dorsolateral regions are also important. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is also known as a substrate of executive functions—the cold component of decision-making. However, there is contradictory evidence about the role of executive functions, as well as the hot component of decision-making—emotional intelligence. This study seeks to address this inconsistency. Previous findings suggest that patients with right frontal lobe lesions should find decision-making more problematic in IGT. This article investigates the importance of emotional intelligence as the hot and executive functions as the cold components of decision-making in IGT. We obtained data from patients with right frontal lobe tumours and healthy controls who undertook IGT, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and D-KEFS Colour-Word Interference Test. The current findings imply that performance in IGT is highly correlated with several parameters of set-shifting in the WCST: correct answers, conceptual level responses and non-perseverative errors. However, no correlation is found with cognitive inhibition parameters in the Colour-Word Interference Test, while an interaction between the emotional intelligence parameters and the performance on IGT is low

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