Cerebral Laterality, Emotion, and Cardiopulmonary Functions: An Investigation of Left and Right CVA Patients
Comer, Clinton Samuel
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Stroke, or cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is a prominent cause of long term disability in the United States. It has been evidenced that the outcome of a CVA patient differs as a function of the cerebral hemisphere that is damaged by the stroke, especially in terms of emotional changes. The Right Hemisphere Model of Emotion posits that the right hemisphere is specialized for processing emotional content, regardless of valence. In contrast, the Bi-Hemispheric Model of Emotion posits that each hemisphere has its own emotional specialization. The current experiment tested the competing predictions of the two theoretical perspectives in a mixed sample of left cerebrovascular accident (LCVA) patients and right cerebrovascular accident (RCVA) patients using a Dichotic Listening task and the Affective Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AAVLT). Heart Rate (HR) and Pulse Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) were also recorded as sympathetic measures. It was expected that the predictions of the Bi-Hemispheric Model would be supported. A series of mixed design ANOVAs were used to analyze the data. Results revealed that both groups may have exhibited decreased auditory detection abilities in the ear contralateral to CVA location. Additionally, CVA patients recalled significantly more positive words, than negative or neutral words, and exhibited a significant learning curve. LCVA patients exhibited a recency effect, while RCVA patients exhibited a heightened primacy effect. Findings from HR and SPO2 measures suggested a parasympathetic response to neutral information as well as an impaired sympathetic response to negative information in RCVA patients. Taken together these results lend partial support to the hypotheses drawn from the Bi-Hemispheric Model of Emotion, as evidenced by the diametrically opposite effects in these groups, which appears to reflect opposing cerebral processes.
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