Analysis of Quantitative Electroencephalographic and Cardiovascular Responses to Stress Amoung Low- and High-Hostiles

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Virginia Tech

This experiment was primarily designed to identify higher cortical correlates of cardiovascular arousal. Low- and high-hostile, right-handed, undergraduate men were identified using the Cook Medley Hostility Scale (CMHS). All participants (N = 30) completed the cold pressor paradigm. Cardiovascular (heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure) and electroencephalographic (beta magnitude) data were collected before and after the stressor.

As predicted, high-hostiles showed greater increases of heart rate and systolic blood pressure to the stressor relative to low-hostiles. The primary findings of this research include significantly greater beta magnitude recorded by the T3, relative to F7, electrode among low-hostiles. This may suggest that low-hostiles experience left-frontal disinhibition of left-temporal regions, thereby strengthening cardiovascular regulation during the cold-pressor stress. In addition, irrespective of condition, high-hostiles evidenced significantly greater beta magnitude at regions corresponding to the F7 and F8 electrodes. This perhaps suggests that high-hostiles have a relative inability to increase their rostral modulation of posterior systems related to cardiovascular activity/regulation.

Low- and high-hostiles did not, however, evidence reliable differences in their ability to monitor cardiovascular arousal to the cold-pressor stress. Findings are discussed in terms of a systems approach, and pertinent future research is recommended.

This research did not support the prominent neuropsychological theories of cardiovascular regulation proposed by Heilman et al. (1993) and Tucker and Williamson (1984). Rather, the results may suggest that right- and left-cerebral mechanisms may be primarily responsible for sympathetic and parasympathetic cardiovascular arousal, respectively.

aggression, cerebral laterality, arousal, cerebral asymmetry, heart rate, cardiovascular disease, blood pressure