The relationship of approach/avoidance motivation and asymmetric frontal cortical activity: A review of studies manipulating frontal asymmetry


The balance between activity in the left and right frontal cortex, commonly referred to as asymmetric frontal cortical activity, has served as a proxy for an organism’s motivational direction (i.e., approach vs. avoidance). Many studies have examined the influence of the manipulation of motivational direction on asymmetrical frontal cortical activity and found results consistent with the idea that greater relative left (right) frontal cortical activity is associated with approach (avoidance) motivation. We critically review literature employing physical (versus psychological) manipulations of frontal asymmetry using a variety of methodologies including neurofeedback training, muscular contractions, and non-invasive brain stimulation. These reviewed methods allow us to make stronger causal inferences regarding the role of asymmetric frontal cortical activity in approach and avoidance motivation.

International Journal of Psychophysiology