Bilateral skin conductance responses to emotional faces

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2012 Sep;37(3):145-52. doi: 10.1007/s10484-011-9177-7.


Skin conductance responses (SCR) measure objective arousal in response to emotionally-relevant stimuli. Central nervous system influence on SCR is exerted differentially by the two hemispheres. Differences between SCR recordings from the left and right hands may therefore be expected. This study focused on emotionally expressive faces, known to be processed differently by the two hemispheres. Faces depicting neutral, happy, sad, angry, fearful or disgusted expressions were presented in two tasks, one with an explicit emotion judgment and the other with an age judgment. We found stronger responses to sad and happy faces compared with neutral from the left hand during the implicit task, and stronger responses to negative emotions compared with neutral from the right hand during the explicit task. Our results suggest that basic social stimuli generate distinct responses on the two hands, no doubt related to the lateralization of social function in the brain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology