Emotional states influence whole-body movements during quiet standing, gait initiation, and steady state gait. A notable gap exists, however, in understanding how emotions affect postural changes during the period preceding the execution of planned whole-body movements. The impact of emotion-induced postural reactions on forthcoming posturomotor movements remains unknown. We sought to determine the influence of emotional reactions on center of pressure (COP) displacement before the initiation of forward gait. Participants (N = 23, 14 females) stood on a force plate and initiated forward gait at the offset of an emotional image (representing five discrete categories: attack, sad faces, erotica, happy faces, and neutral objects). COP displacement in the anteroposterior direction was quantified for a 2 second period during image presentation. Following picture onset, participants produced a posterior postural response to all image types. The greatest posterior displacement was occasioned in response to attack or threat stimuli compared with happy faces and erotica images. Results suggest the impact of emotional states on gait behavior begins during the motor planning period before the preparatory phase of gait initiation, and manifests in center of pressure displacement alterations.
Bradley Fawver, Garrett F. Beatty, Chris J. Hass, and Christopher M. Janelle are with the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Kelly M. Naugle is with the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN.