Emotional arousal in agenesis of the corpus callosum

Int J Psychophysiol. 2006 Jul;61(1):47-56. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2005.10.017. Epub 2006 Jun 6.


While the processing of verbal and psychophysiological indices of emotional arousal have been investigated extensively in relation to the left and right cerebral hemispheres, it remains poorly understood how both hemispheres normally function together to generate emotional responses to stimuli. Drawing on a unique sample of nine high-functioning subjects with complete agenesis of the corpus callosum (AgCC), we investigated this issue using standardized emotional visual stimuli. Compared to healthy controls, subjects with AgCC showed a larger variance in their cognitive ratings of valence and arousal, and an insensitivity to the emotion category of the stimuli, especially for negatively-valenced stimuli, and especially for their arousal. Despite their impaired cognitive ratings of arousal, some subjects with AgCC showed large skin-conductance responses, and in general skin-conductance responses discriminated emotion categories and correlated with stimulus arousal ratings. We suggest that largely intact right hemisphere mechanisms can support psychophysiological emotional responses, but that the lack of interhemispheric communication between the hemispheres, perhaps together with dysfunction of the anterior cingulate cortex, interferes with normal verbal ratings of arousal, a mechanism in line with some models of alexithymia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology
  • Agenesis of Corpus Callosum*
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Awareness / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Corpus Callosum / pathology
  • Corpus Callosum / physiopathology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Reference Values