The influence of lateralized stressors on cardiovascular regulation and perception in high and low hostile men

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Virginia Tech

The influence of hostility on the lateralized tasks of cardiovascular regulation, verbal fluency, nonverbal fluency, and dichotic listening was assessed. Twenty-four subjects divided into two groups, high- and low-hostile men underwent physiological measurements of SBP, DBP, and HR before and after verbal and figural fluency tasks, which were used as stressors. In addition, subsequent to the administration of each fluency task, dichotic listening performance was evaluated across unfocused, focus left, and focus right trials.

It was expected that high-hostile men would produce results indicative of differential right hemisphere activation when compared with low-hostile men. In addition, it was predicted that high-hostile men would display a weakness in both the performance of the right-frontal nonverbal fluency task and in their ability to maintain relative cardiovascular stability subsequent to the presentation of that stressor. As predicted, high-hostile men produced more perseverative errors than did low hostile men on this task. Further, subsequent to administration of the nonverbal fluency task, high-hostile men produced a reliable increase in blood pressure when compared to baseline and to low-hostile males.

Differences in dichotic listening performance were also expected as a function of the fluency tasks. It was predicted that high-hostile men would evidence a priming effect in that a left-ear bias would be detected after the nonverbal fluency task but not the verbal fluency task. This was indeed the case. However, interestingly, the low-hostile men also displayed a priming effect at the left ear during the nonverbal fluency condition. Results are discussed within the context of the functional cerebral systems of emotion and arousal. Implications for further research are explored.

hostility, emotion, cardiovascular, fluency, autonomic, verbal, anger, nonverbal, stressor, Design