Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 232, Issue 7, pp 2121–2130

Affective motivational direction drives asymmetric frontal hemisphere activation

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00221-014-3902-4

Cite this article as:
Poole, B.D. & Gable, P.A. Exp Brain Res (2014) 232: 2121. doi:10.1007/s00221-014-3902-4


Decades of research have shown that the left- and right-frontal cortical regions are asymmetrically involved in affective processing. Specifically, this past work has demonstrated that greater left-frontal activation is related to positive-approach, and greater right-frontal activation is related to negative-withdrawal. However, much of this past work confounded motivation and affective valence. The current experiment sought to illuminate whether frontal asymmetry is related to motivation or affective valence by examining frontal-lateralized late positive potentials (f-LPPs) and frontal cortical alpha power activation to approach-positive, approach-negative, and withdrawal-negative affects in the same participants. Results revealed that f-LPPs to approach-positive and approach-negative pictures were larger in left- (vs. right-) frontal regions, whereas f-LPPs to withdrawal-negative pictures did not differ between frontal regions. In addition, midline LPPs to approach-positive and approach-negative pictures related to greater left-frontal cortical activation. Together, these results suggest that greater relative left-frontal activation is associated with positive and negative approach-motivated states in the same participants. More broadly, these results are consistent with conceptual models that asymmetric hemisphere activation is related to motivational direction, rather than affective valence.


Approach motivationWithdrawal motivationHemispheric activationEEG

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lee UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.The University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA