Biomechanical organization of gait initiation depends on the timing of affective processing

John F. Stins*, Linda M.A. van Gelder, Laura M. Oudenhoven, Peter J. Beek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Gait initiation (GI) from a quiet bipedal posture has been shown to be influenced by the emotional state of the actor. The literature suggests that the biomechanical organization of forward GI is facilitated when pleasant pictures are shown, as compared to unpleasant pictures. However, there are inconsistencies in the literature, which could be due to the neural dynamics of affective processing. This study aimed to test this hypothesis, using a paradigm whereby participants initiated a step as soon as they saw an affective picture (i.e., onset), or as soon as the picture disappeared from the screen (i.e., offset). Pictures were a priori categorized as pleasant or unpleasant, and could also vary in their arousing properties. We analyzed center-of-pressure and center-of-gravity dynamics as a function of emotional content. We found that gait was initiated faster with pleasant images at onset, and faster with unpleasant images at offset. Also, with offset GI the peak velocity of the COG was reduced, and subjects took smaller steps, with unpleasant images relative to pleasant images. The results are discussed in terms of current knowledge regarding temporal processing of emotions, and its effects on GI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-163
Number of pages5
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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