Asymmetric Frontal Brain Activity and Parental Rejection

R. Huffmeijer, L.R.A. Alink, M. Tops, M.J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.H. van IJzendoorn

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Asymmetric frontal brain activity has been widely implicated in reactions to emotional stimuli and is thought to reflect individual differences in approach-withdrawal motivation. Here, we investigate whether asymmetric frontal activity, as a measure of approach-withdrawal motivation, also predicts charitable donations after a charity's (emotion-eliciting) promotional video showing a child in need is viewed, in a sample of 47 young adult women. In addition, we explore possibilities for mediation and moderation, by asymmetric frontal activity, of the effects of intranasally administered oxytocin and parental love withdrawal on charitable donations. Greater relative left frontal activity was related to larger donations. In addition, we found evidence of moderation: Low levels of parental love withdrawal predicted larger donations in the oxytocin condition for participants showing greater relative right frontal activity. We suggest that when approach motivation is high (reflected in greater relative left frontal activity), individuals are generally inclined to take action upon seeing someone in need and, thus, to donate money to actively help out. Only when approach motivation is low (reflected in less relative left/greater relative right activity) do empathic concerns affected by oxytocin and experiences of love withdrawal play an important part in deciding about donations. © The Author(s) 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-392
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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