Frontal electrocortical and cardiovascular reactivity during happiness and anger Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The present study investigated electrocortical and cardiovascular reactivity during positive and negative emotion, and examined the relation of asymmetric frontal lobe activation to cardiovascular responses. Participants were 30 healthy, right-handed university students (mean age, 23.9; 60% female; 76% Caucasian). Electroencephalographic (EEG), blood pressure (BP), and heart rate (HR) responses were assessed while subjects engaged in laboratory tasks (personally-relevant recall tasks and film clips) designed to elicit happiness or anger. Happiness-inducing tasks evoked more prominent left than right frontal EEG activation, and greater left frontal EEG activation than anger-inducing tasks. However, anger-inducing tasks were, on average, associated with comparable left and right frontal EEG activation. Irrespective of emotional valence, cardiovascular activation was more pronounced during personally-relevant recall tasks than during the viewing of film clips. During anger recall, both greater left frontal EEG response (r=-0.46, P<0.02) and greater right frontal EEG response (r=-0.45, P<0.02) were correlated significantly with increased HR reactivity during the task. In addition, a right lateralized frontal EEG response during anger-inducing tasks was associated with greater concomitant systolic BP (P<0.03) and diastolic BP (P<0.008) reactivity. Exploratory analyses also indicated that men who displayed a left lateralized frontal EEG response during happiness-inducing tasks showed the greatest concomitant systolic BP and HR reactivity (P's<0.03). These findings suggest that asymmetric frontal EEG responses to emotional arousal may elicit different patterns of cardiovascular reactivity in healthy adults.


  • Waldstein, Shari R
  • Kop, Willem J
  • Schmidt, Louis
  • Haufler, Amy J
  • Krantz, David S
  • Fox, Nathan A

publication date

  • November 2000