Effects of level of arousal and type of task on bilateral skin conductance asymmetry and conjugate lateral eye movements
Several recent studies have indicated that the degree and direction of bilateral skin conductance (BSC) asymmetry and the direction of conjugate lateral eye movements (CLEMs) both index hemispheric functioning. Evidence also suggests that BSC asymmetry decreases and CLEMs become more unidirectional as level of arousal increases. Thirty-two normal adults received an habituation series of five-second tones followed by 40 questions. All stimuli were tape recorded. The questions (Schwartz, Davidson, and Maer, 1975) were grouped in four series: 10 verbal-emotional, 10 verbalnonemotional, 10 spatial-emotional, and 10 spatial-nonemotional. The order in which the four series were presented was counterbalanced across subjects. Prior to each question, subjects fixated the face of a mannequin. Sixteen subjects (high arousal) had five seconds to contemplate their answer; the remaining 16 (low arousal) had 10 seconds. Instructions for the high arousal group specified that intelligence and problem-solving ability was being tested, and that speed and accuracy were very important. Those for the low arousal group indicated casually that subjects were to ponder a series of questions. BSC levels, SC response amplitudes, and CLEMs were measured during a five-second interval following each tone or question. BSC levels were greater under the High Arousal condition. While approximately two-thirds of the subjects showed BSC asymmetry (roughly evenly divided between those with larger left and right hand responses), neither the degree nor direction of the asymmetries changed as a function of question type. While CLEM direction was more sensitive to question type under low arousal, (i.e., verbal questions resulted in predominantly right-going CLEMs and spatial questions resulted in predominantly left-going CLEMs) they tended to be stereotyped (i.e., unidirectional) under high arousal. Finally, no relationship was observed between CLEM direction and BSC asymmetry under either high or low arousal condition.
KeywordsSkin Conductance Skin Conductance Response Question Type High Arousal Skin Conductance Level
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