Behavioral approach system sensitivity and risk taking interact to predict left-frontal eeg asymmetry

Chelsea L. Black, Kim E. Goldstein, Denise R. LaBelle, Christopher W. Brown, Eddie Harmon-Jones, Lyn Y. Abramson, Lauren B. Alloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The Behavioral Approach System (BAS) hypersensitivity theory of bipolar disorder (BD; Alloy & Abramson, 2010; Depue & Iacono, 1989) suggests that hyperreactivity in the BAS results in the extreme fluctuations of mood characteristic of BD. In addition to risk conferred by BAS hypersensitivity, cognitive and personality variables may play a role in determining risk. We evaluated relationships among BAS sensitivity, risk taking, and an electrophysiological correlate of approach motivation, relative left-frontal electroencephalography (EEG) asymmetry. BAS sensitivity moderated the relationship between risk taking and EEG asymmetry. More specifically, individuals who were high in BAS sensitivity showed left-frontal EEG asymmetry regardless of their level of risk-taking behavior. However, among individuals who were moderate in BAS sensitivity, risk taking was positively associated with asymmetry. These findings suggest that cognitive and personality correlates of bipolar risk may evidence unique contributions to a neural measure of trait-approach motivation. Clinical implications of these findings are discussed. with moderate reward sensitivity but high in risk taking had high asymmetry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-650
Number of pages11
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral approach system
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Left-frontal EEG asymmetry
  • Risk taking


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