Responding to threat: Hemispheric asymmetries and interhemispheric division of input

Rebecca J. Compton, Wendy Heller, Marie T. Banich, Patrick A. Palmieri, Gregory A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This investigation examined how hemispheric asymmetry and interhemispheric processing contribute to attentional biases toward emotional information. Participants (n = 88) named the color of lateralized squares presented concurrently with neutral, positive, or threatening words. A left-hemisphere advantage in color naming was reduced when distractors were emotional, suggesting right-hemisphere priming by emotional stimuli. Furthermore, the advantage of dividing the word and color across visual fields was increased for emotion words when they were frequently presented, indicating a strategic use of interhemispheric division of labor to reduce the distracting effect of emotional words. Finally, participants with high levels of anxious apprehension were most likely to make use of this interhemispheric processing strategy, supporting a processing efficiency theory of cognitive function in anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-264
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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