Frontal alpha asymmetry in alcohol-related intimate partner violence

Brandi C. Fink, Breannan C. Howell, Sarah Salway, James F. Cavanagh, Derek A. Hamilton, Eric D. Claus, Madeline E. Frost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Electroencephalographic (EEG) frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA) has been associated with differences in the experience and expression of emotion, motivation and anger in normal and clinical populations. The current study is the first to investigate FAA in alcohol-related intimate partner violence. EEG was recorded from 23 distressed violent (DV) and 15 distressed nonviolent (DNV) partners during a placebo-controlled alcohol administration and emotion-regulation study. The State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory 2 was used to evaluate anger experiences and was collected from both participants and their partners. During baseline, acute alcohol intoxication DV partners had significantly greater right FAA, whereas DNV partners showed greater left FAA. Both partner types demonstrated significantly greater right FAA during the placebo beverage condition of the emotion-regulation task when viewing evocative partner displays of contempt, belligerence, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling, but greater left FAA during acute alcohol intoxication. Although no group differences were found in the emotion-regulation task, partner self-reported anger experiences accounted for 67% of the variance in the FAA of DV participants when intoxicated and viewing evocative stimuli, suggesting dyadic processes are important in understanding alcohol-related IPV. These findings suggest that FAA could index the affective and motivational determinants through which alcohol is related to IPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1217
Number of pages9
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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