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Brain Cogn. 1995 Dec;29(3):217-31.

Asymmetrical hemispheric activation and emotion: the effects of unilateral forced nostril breathing.

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University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Relative nostril efficiency is associated with greater activation of the hemisphere contralateral to the more efficient (dominant) nostril and with improved performance on cognitive tasks which reflect the functions of that hemisphere (see Shannahoff-Khalsa, 1993, for review). In this experiment we demonstrate a similar relationship between nasal efficiency and the emotional functions of the cerebral hemispheres. Following left nostril forced breathing through the dominant nostril, subjects report a more negative emotional state, score higher on the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory, and tell stories about an ambiguous picture that are more negative in emotional tone. These results are similar to those found with unilateral muscle contractions and therefore support the hypothesis that unilateral contractions are effective because of contralateral hemispheric activation.

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