Emotion regulation through execution, observation, and imagery of emotional movements

Tal Shafir, Stephan F. Taylor, Anthony P. Atkinson, Scott A. Langenecker, Jon Kar Zubieta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

According to Damasio's somatic marker hypothesis, emotions are generated by conveying the current state of the body to the brain through interoceptive and proprioceptive afferent input. The resulting brain activation patterns represent unconscious emotions and correlate with subjective feelings. This proposition implies a corollary that the deliberate control of motor behavior could regulate feelings. We tested this possibility, hypothesizing that engaging in movements associated with a certain emotion would enhance that emotion and/or the corresponding valence. Furthermore, because motor imagery and observation are thought to activate the same mirror-neuron network engaged during motor execution, they might also activate the same emotional processing circuits, leading to similar emotional effects. Therefore, we measured the effects of motor execution, motor imagery and observation of whole-body dynamic expressions of emotions (happiness, sadness, fear) on affective state. All three tasks enhanced the corresponding affective state, indicating their potential to regulate emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-227
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and Cognition
Volume82
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Phil F. Jenkins Foundation and Grant UL1RR024986 from the National Center for Research Resources. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center for Research Resources or the National Institutes of Health.

Keywords

  • Body expression of emotion
  • Embodiment
  • Emotion regulation
  • Motor imagery
  • Nonverbal behavior
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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