Approach motivation in human cerebral cortex
bepress|Social and Behavioral Sciences|Psychology | bepress|Social and Behavioral Sciences | bepress|Social and Behavioral Sciences|Psychology|Biological Psychology
Different regions of the human cerebral cortex are specialized for different emotions, but the principles underlying this specialization have remained unknown. According to the sword and shield hypothesis, hemispheric specialization for affective motivation, a basic dimension of human emotion, varies across individuals according to the way they use their hands to perform approach- and avoidance-related actions. In a test of this hypothesis, here we measured approach motivation before and after 5 sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to increase excitation in the left or right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), in healthy adults whose handedness ranged from strongly left-handed to strongly right-handed. The strength and direction of participants’ handedness predicted whether electrical stimulation to frontal cortex caused an increase or decrease in their experience of approach-related emotions. The organization of approach motivation in the human cerebral cortex varies across individuals as predicted by the organization of the individuals’ motor systems. These results show that the large-scale cortical organization of abstract concepts corresponds with the way people use their hands to interact with the world. Affective motivation may reuse neural circuits that evolved for performing approach- and avoidance-related motor actions.