Neuropsychological Effects of Hostility and Pain on Emotion Perception

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Virginia Tech

Recent research on the neuropsychology of emotion and pain has indicated that emotion and pain are complex processes that may substantially influence each other. Disorders of negative emotion and pain are known to co-occur (Delgado, 2004); however, it is not clear whether negative emotional conditions lead to pain or whether increased pain experiences lead to negative emotion. Further, certain negative emotions, such as hostility or anger, may produce differential effects on the experience of pain, such that they may lead to an increase in pain or a decrease in pain. An increase or decrease in pain perception may lead to altered behavioral, cognitive, and neuropsychological effects in high hostility. In order to more clearly examine the aforementioned relationships, the current experiment examined auditory emotion perception before and after cold pressor pain in high and low hostile men. Additionally, quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) was used to measure changes in cerebral activation as a result of auditory emotion perception and cold pressor pain. Results indicated that identification of emotion post-cold pressor differed as a function of hostility level and ear. The high hostile group increased identification of stimuli at the right ear after cold pressor exposure, while the low hostile group increased identification of stimuli at the left ear after cold pressor exposure. Primary QEEG findings indicated increased left temporal activation after cold pressor exposure and increased reactivity to cold pressor pain in the high hostile group. Low hostile men had a bilateral increase in high beta magnitude at the temporal lobes and a bilateral increase in delta magnitude at the frontal lobes after the cold pressor. Results suggest decreased cerebral laterality and left hemisphere activation for emotional and pain processing in high hostile men.

pain, dichotic listening, emotion, QEEG, laterality, hostility