- Alexithymia and the brain potential P300
- Netherlands Journal of Psychology
- Pages (from-to)
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Background: The P300 is an event-related potential occurring at about 300 ms post-stimulus. The P300 covaries in amplitude with the perceived significance of the stimulus as well as with its emotional valence. Alexithymia refers to severe reductions in the cognitive as well as affective components of the emotional experience. For these reasons the study into the P300 in alexithymic subjects is interesting. Two such studies have been published, one claiming results indicating lower P300 in alexithymics, one claiming the
Aims: The aim of this study was to clarify the effects of alexithymia on the P300 response.
Method: High- and low-alexithymic individuals were drawn from a normal population (based on scores on the Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire) and participated in a visual oddball task while scalp EEG was recorded. The oddball task consisted of a series of non-target stimuli, intermixed with less frequent target stimuli, emotional stimuli, and neutral
Results: P300 amplitudes were enhanced for emotional compared with neutral pictures. Females showed higher P300 amplitudes compared with males. High-alexithymic women showed smaller P300 amplitudes than low-alexithymic women, irrespective of stimulus category. Furthermore, female low-alexithymics showed enhanced amplitudes for electrodes over the left compared with the right hemisphere. Suggestive evidence indicated
that P300 amplitude was higher in high- compared with low-alexithymic males.
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