Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

Can you HAND-le these emotions? An investigation on hemispheric dominance with exposure to visual stimuli.

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Carole Scherling

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Understanding dominant handedness has important implications for surgery planning and patient groups like stroke (Agarwal, 2016; Harris & Eng, 2006). Right-handers predominantly present left-hemisphere language dominance (Knecht, 2000), while left-handers present bilateral or right hemisphere language dominance (Bidula, 2017). Hemispheric lateralization of function also extends to other cognitive domains, such as emotional processing, where there are 2 major theories. The Valence lateralization hypothesis, looking at positive or negative emotional qualities, suggests left hemispheric dominance for positive emotions and right dominance for negative ones (Palomero-Gallagher, 2022). The Approach-withdrawal hypothesis, explaining motivational behavior associated with emotions, suggests left hemispheric dominance for approachable emotions and right dominance for withdrawal emotions (Davidson, 1990). Similar to language hemispheric dominance, emotional processing may be lateralized in the brain according to handedness. The current study aims to better understand this emotional hemispheric lateralization, in conjunction with handedness. We hypothesize that right-handers will show higher functional activity in the left hemisphere for positively-valenced and approachable facial stimuli. The study uses a novel forced-choice emotional facial judgment task presented on the Inquisit platform (Inquisit 6, 2022), with information on hemispheric lateralization being obtained from the fNIRs infrared neuroimaging environment ( during the emotional judgment task. On the same platform, language lateralization was extracted during an oral reading task. Data is currently being collected and analyzed. Results will be presented and discussed in full during the oral presentation. The results are expected to guide targeted interventions for clinical groups experiencing emotional deficits after a neural assault and/or degeneration.

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