Master's Theses

Date of Award

Spring 1985

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Cathy Hall

Abstract

A substantial body of evidence indicates that the two cerebral hemispheres differ in their contributions to emotional behavior. This research suggests that the right hemisphere plays a dominant role in the perception of affective stimuli and the production of negative mood states such as depression. Evidence also exists implicating greater left hemisphere participation in positive mood states such as euphoria. The purpose of the present study was to determine if females who engaged in self-generated emotional mentation varying in the quality of affect (positive, negative, and neutral) demonstrated asymmetries in cerebral activity. A 3 (quality of emotion) x2 (cognitive strategy) repeated measures design was used. Each of ten female subjects performed the emotional tasks using either a verbal or visual cognitive strategy. Frontal lobe EEG alpha was recorded bilaterally. The results indicated that the experience of negative emotion produced a shift towards greater right hemisphere activity that differed significantly from both the neutral and the positive emotional tasks. The positive emotional tasks produced a shift in laterality towards greater left hemisphere activity, but this shift did not differ significantly from the non-emotional condition. Heart rate served as an indicator of emotional arousal and was found to increase significantly during each of the emotional tasks, with the exception of the positive emotion induced with a visual imagery strategy. No differences in hemispheric activation during the verbal versus the visual tasks were found. The results of this study support the hypothesis that the right hemisphere serves as the mediator of emotional state, and the clinical implication of the findings are discussed.

Rights

Copyright 1985 Deborah Abraham

Comments

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