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Published July 2006 | Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

Emotional arousal in agenesis of the corpus callosum


While the processing of verbal and psychophysiological indices of emotional arousal have been investigated extensively in relation to the left and right cerebral hemispheres, it remains poorly understood how both hemispheres normally function together to generate emotional responses to stimuli. Drawing on a unique sample of nine high-functioning subjects with complete agenesis of the corpus callosum (AgCC), we investigated this issue using standardized emotional visual stimuli. Compared to healthy controls, subjects with AgCC showed a larger variance in their cognitive ratings of valence and arousal, and an insensitivity to the emotion category of the stimuli, especially for negatively-valenced stimuli, and especially for their arousal. Despite their impaired cognitive ratings of arousal, some subjects with AgCC showed large skin-conductance responses, and in general skin-conductance responses discriminated emotion categories and correlated with stimulus arousal ratings. We suggest that largely intact right hemisphere mechanisms can support psychophysiological emotional responses, but that the lack of interhemispheric communication between the hemispheres, perhaps together with dysfunction of the anterior cingulate cortex, interferes with normal verbal ratings of arousal, a mechanism in line with some models of alexithymia.

Additional Information

© 2006 Elsevier B.V. Received 18 October 2005, Revised 20 October 2005, Accepted 27 October 2005, Available online 6 June 2006. This study was supported by a grant from the Pfeiffer Research Foundation to R.A.

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