Rightward dominance in temporal high-frequency electrical asymmetry corresponds to higher resting heart rate and lower baroreflex sensitivity in a heterogeneous population

Brain Behav. 2015 Jun;5(6):e00343. doi: 10.1002/brb3.343. Epub 2015 May 1.


Objective: Explore potential use of a temporal lobe electrical asymmetry score to discriminate between sympathetic and parasympathetic tendencies in autonomic cardiovascular regulation.

Methods: 131 individuals (82 women, mean age 43.1, range 13-83) with diverse clinical conditions completed inventories for depressive (CES-D or BDI-II) and insomnia-related (ISI) symptomatology, and underwent five-minute recordings of heart rate and blood pressure, allowing calculation of heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS), followed by one-minute, two-channel, eyes-closed scalp recordings of brain electrical activity. A temporal lobe high-frequency (23-36 Hz) electrical asymmetry score was calculated for each subject by subtracting the average amplitude in the left temporal region from amplitude in the right temporal region, and dividing by the lesser of the two.

Results: Depressive and insomnia-related symptomatology exceeding clinical threshold levels were reported by 48% and 50% of subjects, respectively. Using a cutoff value of 5% or greater to define temporal high-frequency asymmetry, subjects with leftward compared to rightward asymmetry were more likely to report use of a sedative-hypnotic medication (42% vs. 22%, P = 0.02). Among subjects with asymmetry of 5% or greater to 30% or greater, those with rightward compared to leftward temporal high-frequency asymmetry had higher resting heart rate (≥5% asymmetry, 72.3 vs. 63.8, P = 0.004; ≥10%, 71.5 vs. 63.0, P = 0.01; ≥20%, 72.2 vs. 64.2, P = 0.05; ≥30%, 71.4 vs. 64.6, P = 0.05). Subjects with larger degrees of rightward compared to leftward temporal high-frequency asymmetry had lower baroreflex sensitivity (≥40% asymmetry, 10.6 vs. 16.4, P = 0.03; ≥50% asymmetry, 10.4 vs. 16.7, P = 0.05).

Conclusion: In a heterogeneous population, individuals with rightward compared to leftward temporal high-frequency electrical asymmetry had higher resting heart rate and lower BRS. Two-channel recording of brain electrical activity from bilateral temporal regions appears to hold promise for further investigation as a means to assess cortical activity associated with autonomic cardiovascular regulation.

Keywords: Autonomic nervous system; RDoC; heart rate variability; hemispheric asymmetry; neurotechnology; temporal lobe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Baroreflex / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Depression* / diagnosis
  • Depression* / physiopathology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurophysiology / methods
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*