Organization of voluntary stepping in response to emotion-inducing pictures
The present experiment was conducted to examine the expectation that emotion stimuli influence the initiation and execution of voluntary stepping, a highly coordinated activity involving a sequence of medio-lateral and anterio-posterior weight shifts. Thirty participants made forward (approach) or backward (avoidance) steps on a forceplate in response to the valence of visual stimuli. Posturographic parameters of the steps, related to automatic stimulus evaluation, step initiation and step execution, were determined and analyzed as a function of stimulus valence and stimulus-response mapping. The results revealed marked effects of emotion on the step parameters of interest; unpleasant images caused an initial "freezing" response, and a tendency to move away from the stimuli. Pleasant stimuli, in contrast, were not found to induce approach tendencies. The results demonstrated that affect, especially negative emotions, and whole-body movements such as voluntary stepping are coupled.