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The effect of contextual bias on the processing of negative emotions in patients with right hemisphere damage

Zezinka, Alexandra (2014) The effect of contextual bias on the processing of negative emotions in patients with right hemisphere damage. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Previous research has shown that damage to the right cerebral hemisphere (RHD) often manifests as higher-level cognitive-linguistic problems in domains such as emotion processing. However, these studies often employ metalinguistic tasks that obscure the nature of processing strengths and weaknesses, with one potential reason for this being the relatively-high cognitive processing demand required to complete the experimental tasks. Individuals with RHD often do not appear to have substantial deficits, and in fact facilitative effects have been observed, when they are assessed in a manner that reduces this demand, via methods such as priming or contextual bias.
This study aimed to investigate the processing of negative emotional input in adults with RHD after affect inducement by an emotionally-biased context. As expected, negative affect word use was higher in a bias condition than in a no-bias condition. Non-brain-damaged control participants (NBD) used more negative affect words than participants with RHD in both conditions, though this between-group difference was not statistically significant. It was originally hypothesized that differences between groups would occur and that these differences would be reduced in a bias condition, but because the groups did not differ in negative affect word use, this hypothesis became moot. Overall, previously-reported “deficits” in processing negative emotions appear to be task- and task-demand-specific, and adults with RHD perform cognitive-linguistic tasks better when primed. Currently, few diagnostic and treatment measures are available for individuals with cognitive-communicative disorders. Findings from this study will add to the corpus of data to aid in the development of clinical approaches for emotional processing.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorTompkins, Connietompkins@pitt.eduTOMPKINS
Committee MemberVance, Janicejvance@pitt.eduJVANCE
Committee MemberWarren, Tessatessa@pitt.eduTESSA
Committee MemberBlake,
Date: 22 April 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 April 2014
Approval Date: 22 April 2014
Submission Date: 14 April 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 77
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Communication Science and Disorders
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Right Hemisphere Damage, Negative Emotions, Contextual Bias, Priming, Linguistic, Cognitive Demand
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2014 18:49
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:19


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