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Dominant and opponent relations in cortical function: An EEG study of exam performance and stress

Authors
  • Pavlova, Lucia P.
  • Berlov, Dmitrii N.
  • Kurismaa, Andres
Type
Published Article
Journal
AIMS Neuroscience
Publisher
AIMS Press
Publication Date
Dec 30, 2017
Volume
5
Issue
1
Pages
32–55
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3934/Neuroscience.2018.1.32
PMID: 32341950
PMCID: PMC7181896
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Theory Article
License
Unknown

Abstract

This paper analyzes the opponent dynamics of human motivational and affective processes, as conceptualized by RS Solomon, from the position of AA Ukhtomsky's neurophysiological principle of the dominant and its applications in the field of human electroencephalographic analysis. As an experimental model, we investigate the dynamics of cortical activity in students submitting university final course oral examinations in naturalistic settings, and show that successful performance in these settings depends on the presence of specific types of cortical activation patterns, involving high indices of left-hemispheric and frontal cortical dominance, whereas the lack thereof predicts poor performance on the task, and seems to be associated with difficulties in the executive regulation of cognitive (intellectual) and motivational processes in these highly demanding and stressful conditions. Based on such knowledge, improved educational and therapeutic interventions can be suggested which take into account individual variability in the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying adaptation to motivationally and intellectually challenging, stressful tasks, such as oral university exams. Some implications of this research for opponent-process theory and its closer integration into current neuroscience research on acquired motivations are discussed.

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