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

ABSTRACT (PDF: download)
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. Eightyseven
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 selfreported
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.

Neural Engineering