Background: Two main models have been advanced to explain the asymmetries observed in the representation and processing of emotions. The first model, labeled “the right hemisphere hypothesis,” assumes a general dominance of the right hemisphere for all emotions, regardless of affective valence. The second model, named “the valence hypothesis,” assumes an opposite dominance of the left hemisphere for positive emotions and the right hemisphere for negative emotions. Patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) could contribute to clarifying this issue, because disorders of emotional and social behavior are very common in FTLD and because atrophy, which affects the antero-ventral part of the frontal and temporal lobes, can be clearly asymmetric in the early stages of this disease. Objective: The main scope of the present review therefore consists of evaluating if results of investigations conducted on emotional and behavioral disorders of patients with right and left FTLD, support the “right hemisphere” or the “valence” hypothesis. Method: A thorough review of behavioral and emotional disorders in FTLD patients, found that 177 possible studies, but only 32 papers met the requested criteria for inclusion in our review. Results: Almost all (25 out of 26) studies were relevant with respect to the “right hemisphere hypothesis” and supported the assumption of a general dominance of the right hemisphere for emotional functions, whereas only one of the six investigations were relevant with respect to the “valence hypothesis” and were in part consistent with this hypothesis, though these are also open to interpretation in terms of the “right hemisphere” hypothesis. Conclusions: This study, therefore, clearly supports the model of a general dominance of the right hemisphere for all emotions, regardless of affective valence.
- asymmetrical forms of frontotemporal dementia
- emotional and behavioral disorders
- laterality of emotions
- positive and negative emotions
- the “right hemisphere” hypothesis
- the “valence hypothesis”