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MA Student, Shannon Shierenbeck, Publishes First-Authored Paper

Posted in: Featured Students, Psychology News, Research

Shannon Schierenbeck, a Psychology Master’s degree student, is first author on a research publication: Schierenbeck, S. & Propper, R.E. In press. Integrative Research Review of the Impacts of Unilateral Hand Clenching on Behavior: Clinical Implications. Psychological Applications and Trends.

As part of the work she did, Schierenbeck conducted a literature review examining a technique that changes how the brain functions; unilateral hand clenching.  In general, the two halves of the brain- the left and right hemispheres- process the world differently. The left hemisphere is very language oriented, for example, while the right hemisphere is more spatially aware.  Strongly clenching the left hand causes the right half of the brain to become more active, while strongly clenching the right hand causes the left half of the brain to become more active.  The hand-clench related activation spreads to areas of the brain other than just motor areas; this spread of activation causes the more active hemisphere to be the one ‘in charge’, resulting in a hemisphere’s ‘world view’ becoming dominant.  Shannon did a review of the unilateral hand clenching literature to see if these movements do change emotion and cognition.  Shannon and Ruth Propper report that yes, unilateral hand clenching does change mood and cognition and the results depend on which hand is clenched. For example, left hand clenching causes greater creativity and right-hand clenching causes increased happy mood. The publication discusses how these findings might be helpful for clinical purposes, too. Schierenbeck is first author on the paper, and she is also presenting it virtually.