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Increased Anger is Associated With Increased Hemispheric Asymmetry: Support for Anger-Tympanic Membrane Relationships

Propper, Ruth E. PhD*; Januszewski, Ashley BA (cand.)*; Christman, Stephen D. PhD; Brunyé, Tad T. PhD‡§

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: September 2011 - Volume 199 - Issue 9 - p 716-720
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318229d95a
Brief Reports

We recently reported that increased anger/hostility is associated with an increased imbalance of hemispheric activity, regardless of which particular hemisphere is more active (as indicated by increased absolute difference in temperature between the right and left tympanic membrane (ar-lTMT; Propper et al., J Nerv Ment Dis 198:691-694, 2010). In that study, we examined baseline levels of emotion and ar-lTMT; in this study, we used sustained unilateral gaze to manipulate hemispheric activity to further investigate the nature of the relationship between anger, ar-lTMT, and hemispheric imbalance. Both rightward (significantly) and leftward (modestly) sustained unilateral gaze increased anger, providing further evidence that anger is associated with the asymmetry of hemispheric activation. We also support our previous work demonstrating a relationship between increased anger and increased ar-lTMT. This is the second study supporting the use of ar-lTMT as a simple and convenient measure of hemispheric activation and as an objective correlate of anger.

*Montclair State University, Psychology Department, Montclair, NJ; †University of Toledo, Psychology Department, Toledo, OH; ‡Tufts University, Psychology Department, Medford, MA; and §US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Natick, MA.

This work was supported by US Army Contracts W911QY-09-P-0567 and W911QY-10-P-0420. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily of the US Army. Data collection was performed at Merrimack College, North Andover, MA.

Send reprint requests to Ruth E. Propper, PhD, Montclair State University, Psychology Department, 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, NJ, 07043. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.