The relationship between frontal brain asymmetry and exercise addiction

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jennifer L. Etnier, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Previous research on the causes of exercise addiction has focused primarily on the relationships among personality traits, social influences, and disordered eating (Bamber, Cockerill, & Carroll, 2000; Beals, 2004). Few studies, however, have examined the psychophysiological nature of exercise addiction. In a related area of research in which brain activity has been related to affect and mood, results show that frontal asymmetry, as measured by electroencephalogram (EEG), is associated with negative emotions. More specifically, greater activity at right frontal electrode sites is found among individuals suffering from negative affect and depression. Because a defining feature of exercise addiction is the use of exercise to control negative mood states, it is expected that those with exercise addiction exhibit different frontal activity. This study explores the hypothesized relationship between exercise addiction and the level of baseline frontal activity asymmetry, as measured by EEG. Regularly active women (n = 28, M age = 32.43, SD = 10.89) were recruited to participate in the study. Exercise addiction status was determined by the Exercise Addiction Inventory (EAI) (Terry, Szabo, & Griffiths, 2004). After completing the EAI, each participant took part in an EEG session consisting of eight 1-min resting trials, four with eyes open, and four with eyes closed, presented in counterbalanced order. Electrodes were applied to the left and right frontal sites (F3 and F4). A regression analysis, predicting exercise addiction from frontal asymmetry, was significant, F(1, 27) = 6.4, p < .05, and indicated that greater relative left frontal activity with higher exercise addiction scores. There may be a link between frontal asymmetry, as an indicator of negative emotions, and exercise addiction in women.

Additional Information

Journal of Psychophysiology, 23(3), 135-142
Language: English
Date: 2009
exercise addiction, asymmetrical frontal cortical activity, EEG, EEG asymmetry

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