A Computerized Test for Hemispheric Emotional Valence Correlates with Lateralized Nucleus Accumbens, Hippocampal and Amygdala Volumes by Anatomical MRI

Laura Hernandez Garcia, MD

McLean Hospital – Fellow

Scientific Abstract

Background: Based on our earlier work on a relation between cerebral laterality and trauma, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse we developed a computer test for hemispheric emotional valence (CTHEV) to predict outcomes and guide treatments for unilateral brain treatments such as unilateral transcranial photobiomodulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation. We further sought to assess whether cerebral laterality as assessed by CTHEV was associated with lateralized differences in brain structure and connectivity.

Methods: The CTHEV was administered to 50 (18 male /32 female) right-handed participants, aged 18-19 years, who were enrolled in a study on the effects of childhood maltreatment on neuroimaging and risk for substance abuse. Based on a literature review on anxiety, depression, and early life stress, we assessed whether the CTHEV correlated with lateralized volumes of the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, hippocampus, and subgenual anterior cingulate as well as volume of the corpus callosum. 

Results: CTHEV scores correlated with laterality indices of the nucleus accumbens (p = 0.00016), amygdala (p = 0.0138) and hippocampus (p = .031) when controlling for childhood maltreatment, gender, and age. A positive left hemispheric valence was associated with a larger left-sided nucleus accumbens and hippocampus and a smaller amygdala. We also identified four eigenvector network centrality DTI measures predictors of the CTHEV that exceeded chance levels after false discovery rate correction for multiple comparisons and found that the CTHEV results correlated with corpus callosum total volume and volume of mid-anterior and the posterior segments.

Conclusions: This study found that the CTHEV correlated with important lateralized brain volumes, DTI network centrality measures, and corpus callosum volumes which further support its use in guiding lateralized brain treatments and in analyzing neuroscientific data. The CTHEV findings also lend support to the psychological hypotheses from Dual-Brain Psychology, upon which the CTHEV was based.

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research Areas


Laura C. Hernandez Garcia, Fredric Schiffer, Alaptagin Khan, Kyoko Ohashi, Carl M Anderson, Lisa D Nickerson, Martin H. Teicher

Principal Investigator

Fredric Schiffer, MD

Affiliated Website