Frontal alpha EEG asymmetry before and after behavioral activation treatment for depression

Jackie K. Gollan*, Denada Hoxha, Dietta Chihade, Mark E. Pflieger, Laina Rosebrock, John Cacioppo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Background: Mid-frontal and mid-lateral (F3/F4 and F7/F8) EEG asymmetry has been associated with motivation and affect. We examined alpha EEG asymmetry in depressed and healthy participants before and after Behavioral Activation treatment for depression; examined the association between alpha EEG asymmetry and motivational systems and affect; and evaluated the utility of alpha EEG asymmetry in predicting remission. Methods: Depressed (n=. 37) and healthy participants (n=. 35) were assessed before and after treatment using a clinical interview, a task to measure baseline EEG, and questionnaires of behavioral activation and inhibition, avoidance, and affect. Results: Alpha EEG asymmetry was significantly higher in depressed than healthy participants at pre-treatment, positively correlated with negative affect and behavioral inhibition, and inversely correlated with lower behavioral activation sensitivity. Conclusions: Heightened alpha EEG asymmetry in depressed participants was significantly associated with increased behavioral inhibition and negative emotion and was independent of clinical remission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-208
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Alpha EEG asymmetry
  • Approach-related motivation
  • Avoidance
  • Behavioral Activation treatment
  • Major depression
  • Withdrawal-related motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • General Neuroscience


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