The relationship of cortical activation to alternating autonomic activity
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It has been proposed that it is possible to selectively activate the cerebral hemispheres, thereby enhancing lateralized cognitive abilities. A proposed method of achieving selective activation is by altering nasal congestion/decongestion (nasal cycle), which is believed to effect a contralateral change in hemispheric activation through the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This hypothesis was tested in 4 right-handed male and 6 right-handed female undergraduate students. Subjects were untrained in specific breathing techniques but were aware of the experimental hypothesis. Four 1 min samples of EEG were recorded in each of 4 experimental conditions in which nasal decongestion was altered by having subjects lie in the lateral recumbent position and occluding the contralateral nare. Cortical activation and laterality were examined using ratios of the low beta (12-18 Hz) and high alpha (10-12 Hz) bandwidths relative to each other and between hemispheres. Repeated measures ANOVAs showed non-significant changes in the alpha and beta bandwidths across the 4 experimental conditions. Although changes in hemispheric activation have been postulated for all subjects, this study does not support such changes in subjects untrained in breathing techniques.
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