Stress and laterality - The comparative perspective

Sebastian Ocklenburg, S. Mechiel Korte, Jutta Peterburs, Oliver T. Wolf, Onur Güntürkün

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Functional hemispheric asymmetries can vary over time and steroid hormones have been shown to be one of the factors that can modulate them. Research into this matter has mainly focused on sex steroid hormones (androgens, estrogens and progestogens), although there is increasing evidence that glucocorticoids which are related to the body's response to stress (e.g. cortisol or corticosterone) might also modulate functional hemispheric asymmetries. Here, we review studies in humans and non-human model species investigating the relation of stress and laterality. Results indicate a dual relationship of the two parameters. Both acute and chronic stress can affect different forms of lateralization in the human brain, often (but not always) resulting in greater involvement of the right hemisphere. Moreover, lateralization as a form of functional brain architecture can also represent a protective factor against adverse effects of stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-329
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortisol
  • Functional hemispheric asymmetries
  • Lateralization
  • Steroid hormones
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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