Frontal Hemisphere Lateralization and Depressive Personality Traits

Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1993, 77 , 1035-I042. @ Perceptual and Motor Skills 1993


III Psychiatric Clinic
University of Rome “La Sapienza”

To assess the relationship between hemispheric differences in information
processing and interhemispheric asymmetries in terms of brain bioelectrical
activity, we correlated scores on the MMPI Depression scale with interhemispheric
asymmetry, measured as peak amplitude and latency of the P3 component of somatosensory
evoked potentials (SEPs) at the frontocortical region of 14 healthy unselected
volunteers (8 men and 6 women) who were about to start a course in autogenic training.
The sample was subdivided into two groups on the basis of the median score on
the MMPI Depression scale. Subiects scoring above the median showed a right
latenhzation at the frontocentral region and a significantly shorter P3 latency at. the
right hemisphere compared to the left.

Since the late 19th century, mood disorders were supposed to be related
to hemispheric cerebral asymmetries. C. B. Lewis (1895) introduced this
view by reporting the case of a patient with manic depressive illness wherein
cerebral hemisphere dominance changed according to the phase of the illness.
During the depressive phase, the patient was almost immobile, spoke incoherently
and in Welsh only, and used his left arm almost exclusively. During
the manic phase he became agitated, aggressive, spoke both in English and
 Welsh, and used mainly his right arm.
The importance of frontal areas in the control of mood is supported by
more recent data, although in 1923, Feuchtwanger, observing more than 400
cases of brain gunshot injury, noted that the group of patients with frontal
lesions presented with either euphoric or depressive mood changes and
showed apathy or exuberant thought, but had only slight intellectual impairment
(Feuchtwanger, 1923).
Today there is a great deal of evidence on the involvement of the right
hemisphere in depression; this evidence derives from studies of psychiaric
patients and patients with brain lesions (Hecaen, 1962; Hommes, 1965;
Martin, Ford, McDonald, & lbwler, 1965; Gainotti, 1972; Cronin, Bodley,
Potts, Mather, Gardneq & lbbin, 1970; Sackeim, Greenberg, \Weiman, Ruben,
Hungerbuhler, & Geschwind, 1982; Fromm & Schopflocher, 1984).
Quantitative studies, based on spontaneous cerebral bioelectrical activity
recording, indicate that depressive patients show greater EEG variability, especially
at the right hemsiphere (Perris, 1975; von Knorring, 1983).

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