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Anxiety can impact people's walking direction

Date:
January 19, 2016
Source:
University of Kent
Summary:
People experiencing anxiety and inhibition have more activity in the right side of the brain, causing them to walk in a leftward trajectory. New research has, for the first time, linked the activation of the brain's two hemispheres with lateral shifts in people's walking trajectories.
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People experiencing anxiety and inhibition have more activity in the right side of the brain, causing them to walk in a leftward trajectory.
Credit: © liberowolf / Fotolia

People experiencing anxiety and inhibition have more activity in the right side of the brain, causing them to walk in a leftward trajectory.

New research led by Dr Mario Weick of the School of Psychology at the University of Kent has for the first time linked the activation of the brain's two hemispheres with lateral shifts in people's walking trajectories.

In a study aimed at establishing why individuals display a tendency to allocate attention unequally across space, people were blindfolded and asked to walk in a straight line across a room towards a previously seen target.

The researchers found evidence that blindfolded individuals who displayed inhibition or anxiety were prone to walk to the left, indicating greater activation in the right hemisphere of the brain.

The research indicates that the brain's two hemispheres are associated with different motivational systems. These relate on the right side to inhibition and on the left to approach.

This is the first time researchers have established a clear link between inhibition and activation in the right side of the brain.

The findings may have implications for the treatment of unilateral neglect, which is a condition caused by a lack of awareness of one side of space. In particular, individuals suffering from right-sided neglect may benefit from interventions to reduce anxiety.

Walking blindfolded unveils unique contributions of behavioural approach and inhibition to lateral spatial bias is published in the journal Cognition.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Kent. Original written by Martin Herrema. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mario Weick, John A. Allen, Milica Vasiljevic, Bo Yao. Walking blindfolded unveils unique contributions of behavioural approach and inhibition to lateral spatial bias. Cognition, 2016; 147: 106 DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.11.006

Cite This Page:

University of Kent. "Anxiety can impact people's walking direction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160119141749.htm>.
University of Kent. (2016, January 19). Anxiety can impact people's walking direction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 29, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160119141749.htm
University of Kent. "Anxiety can impact people's walking direction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160119141749.htm (accessed September 29, 2016).