Effects of emotional valence on hemispheric asymmetries in response inhibition

Sebastian Ocklenburg, Jutta Peterburs, Janet Mertzen, Judith Schmitz, Onur Güntürkün, M. Grimshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Hemispheric asymmetries are a major organizational principle in human emotion processing, but their interaction with prefrontal control processes is not well understood. To this end, we determined whether hemispheric differences in response inhibition depend on the emotional valence of the stimulus being inhibited. Participants completed a lateralised Go/Nogo task, in which Nogo stimuli were neutral or emotional (either positive or negative) images, while Go stimuli were scrambled versions of the same pictures. We recorded the N2 and P3 event-related potential (ERP) components, two common electrophysiological measures of response inhibition processes. Behaviourally, participants were more accurate in withholding responses to emotional than to neutral stimuli. Electrophysiologically, Nogo-P3 responses were greater for emotional than for neutral stimuli, an effect driven primarily by an enhanced response to positive images. Hemispheric asymmetries were also observed, with greater Nogo-P3 following left versus right visual field stimuli. However, the visual field effect did not interact with emotion. We therefore find no evidence that emotion-related asymmetries affect response inhibition processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number145
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • EEG
  • Emotion
  • executive functions
  • hemispheric asymmetry
  • lateralisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • General Mathematics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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