The effects of an acute bout of moderate intensity cycling on EEG activity during anger
Thom, Nathaniel John
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Anger is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular diseases and is associated with aggressive and violent behavior thereby representing a considerable burden on public health and welfare. Laboratory methods that reliably manipulate anger are necessary to understand the neurobiology of anger and to aid tests of the efficacy of interventions, including exercise, designed to reduce anger. Recent evidence suggests that pictures of natural scenes can be used to elicit angry emotions and that hemispheric asymmetry in alpha oscillatory frequencies measured by electroencephalography (EEG) at anterior brain sites is a neural index of anger. In addition to evaluating cortical oscillations during emotion, event-related potentials (ERP), particularly the late-positive potential (LPP), are consistently associated with different aspects of emotion processing. There have been no studies, however, that evaluated ERP to anger-inducing pictures. The purpose of the initial study was to evaluate feelings of anger-intensity, arousal and pleasantness/unpleasantness, as well as oscillatory and ERP indices of emotion, during the presentation of pictures of natural scenes and emotional faces. The results suggest that pictures of natural scenes result in the highest feelings of anger intensity and the most intense emotional experience. In addition, the amplitude of the LPP is highest at central-parietal cites while viewing anger-inducing scenes. A second study was conducted to evaluate the effects an acute bout of moderate intensity cycling exercise on state anger and feelings of anger-intensity, arousal, and pleasantness/unpleasantness as well as oscillatory and ERP indices of emotion during picture viewing. The results of the second study suggest that acute exercise reduces state anger and protects against increases in an evoked angry mood. However, the exercise does not alter anger intensity or EEG correlates of anger during the viewing of pictures that elicit anger. Whereas exercise did not alter an angry emotional response using this paradigm, future studies should use other emotion-induction methods to elicit stronger anger responses and should also evaluate the effects of chronic exercise on trait anger.