- The cognitive and affective alexithymia dimensions in the regulation of sympathetic responses
- International Journal of Psychophysiology
- Volume | Issue number
- 75 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
The literature regarding research into alexithymia and sympathetic responses is far from consistent. An explanation might be on the way subjects are classified. Generally, subjects are diagnosed as either alexithymic or non-alexithymic on the basis of questionnaires focusing on the cognitive aspects of alexithymia. However, alexithymia, as originally defined, concerns both emotion-affective and emotion-cognitive deficits. The aim of the present paper is to study the importance of the affective and cognitive alexithymia components in the regulation of sympathetic responses.
Subjects, who scored extremely (either high or low) on both the cognitive and the affective components of alexithymia, were shown neutral and emotional pictures, while their GSR was measured.
The affective alexithymia component, not the cognitive component, turned out to be an important factor in the regulation of GSR peak amplitude. The results further indicate a significant interaction of type of emotional deficit (cognitive by affective) on GSR latency times. Finally, suggestive evidence indicated that baselines values, defined by the levels during the second preceding the stimulus, are related to the cognitive component of alexithymia, in the sense that higher emotion-cognitive capacities result in higher baseline values.
We cautiously conclude that the classification of alexithymics on the basis of both the affective and cognitive components, rather than on the basis of the cognitive component only, might provide more consistent research results, and thus lead to a better understanding of emotional physiological responses in alexithymic subjects.
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