Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The influences of sex and personality on attentional style were examined in two neuropsychological studies in which perfor mance and event-related potentials (ERP's) were employed. Pribram and McGuinness1 (1975) conceptions of Activation and Arousal were recast in a lateralized framework in which the former was seen as characteristic of left hemisphere function while the latter was identified more closely with the right hemisphere. Four equal groups of nine subjects were selected on the basis of sex and ex treme extraversion scores (I-E), while controlling for neuroticism, to participate in two lateralized attentional tasks. The first, a vigilance task designed to assess Activation modeled after Dimond and Beaumont (1973), involved responding to infrequent signals from lateralized visual stimuli. The second study, designed to assess Arousal, employed a complex reaction time task used by Heilman and Van Den Abell (1979). Four-way mixed ANOVAs were carried out for both studies on the performance and ERP data. In addition, corre lations were computed between performance and ERP data. A general left hemisphere superiority was observed in the vigilance study according to prediction. Unexpectedly, significant lateral differ ences and changes over time were observed for male and female introverts, but not for extraverts. Such differences are explained by a developmental model and indicate the utility of several

models of hemispheric interaction. No between and within group dif ferences in performance were observed on the complex reaction time study, failing to confirm previous findings. On both studies, con sistent sex and I-E differences were observed in the topographical distribution of the ERP's. Interesting sex and I-E differences in the patterns of correlations between ERP and performance data emerged on the vigilance, but not on the complex reaction time study. Results indicate that these groups utilize different brain systems to attend. Questions also arise whether the present para digms tap the Arousal-Activation dimension or a model based on stages of processing.

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