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Hemispheric specialization and cognitive behavior therapy

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Some cognitive behavior therapy methods focus upon verbal cognition, others place more emphasis upon imagery. These two modes of cognition are represented differently in the brain: In most individuals imagery is a function of the right cerebral hemisphere and verbal cognition is processed in the left hemisphere. Two cognitive behavioral methods, one emphasizing imagery, the other verbalizations, were used by speech-anxious subjects, half of whom showed greater right hemisphere usage, half greater left hemisphere usage as indicated by their lateral eye movements in response to reflective questions. Although only approaching significance, the results suggested that treatment was most effective if it employed cognition of the subjects nonpreferred hemisphere. This may suggest that clients with clear imagery may benefit more from a verbal strategy, while clients with frequent self-verbalization may benefit more by using coping imagery.

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This study was performed in conjunction with S.L.S.'s master's thesis research, University of North Dakota. Viemarie Buckingham, Duane Lussenheide, Diana Pace, Shirley Tyler, Barbara Arneson, and Craig Stevens provided valuable assistance in data collection.

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Tucker, D.M., Shearer, S.L. & Murray, J.D. Hemispheric specialization and cognitive behavior therapy. Cogn Ther Res 1, 263–273 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01663993

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  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Left Hemisphere
  • Cerebral Hemisphere