The organization of the movement depends mainly on the anticipation of its sensory and emotional consequences


Individuals commonly use their arm to perform various activities and interact with the environment. Due to their daily use, these activities do not seem to involve any difficulty. Nevertheless, they involve complex processes, including coordinated visuomotor mechanisms in an overall goal-directed action through an internal model where the consequences of the decision to move could be fully represented.1. This internal model also enables early regulation of movement called “impulse control” using the expected sensory consequences of movement. It is used for planning movements and intervenes from the start of the action during the “initial impulse” phase.2,3,4. Thus, this work constitutes a significant advance in the understanding of the intervention of internal models involved not only in the planning and control of movement but also in the estimation of the sensory consequences of this movement.5,6,7,8,9.

However, all this research only integrates the sensory-motor aspects of the organization of movement (desired trajectories, synchronization of the hand and the arm, sensory consequences of the action). We often forget that in the activities of daily life, a fundamental component of our practical life, namely motivation and more precisely emotions, influence manual movements towards a spatially defined target intended to interact with the environment. For example, performance in various contexts, such as sports, consumption or industrial tasks, requires adapting movement and manual action to emotional constraints. In another area, through consumer behavior, we can imagine how people act on their mobile device (smartphone), depending on the search for objects sought. Here we view emotions as a disposition to action supporting motivation10.11where motivation is responsible for initiating, maintaining, and ceasing intentional behavior, similar to the appetitive or aversive valence imparted to the goal of the action and/or to the elements of the environment upon which that behavior is based. exercises12. Thus, the emotionally marked environmental context, such as the emotional valence attributed to the goal of the action, can influence reaching and aiming movements.

An emotionally scarred environment influences the organization of action

Regarding the environmental context, through the motivational leadership hypothesis (see Gable and Harmon-Jones132010 for review), we automatically and spontaneously assign emotional valences to the various stimuli around us, thus triggering immediate and primitive behavioral predispositions to approach or avoid them.14,15,16. For example, when participants respond to attitude object stimuli by pushing or pulling a lever, they are quicker to respond to negative-valence stimuli when moving the lever away (avoid) than when pulling it up. them (approach). Likewise, they respond more quickly to positive stimuli when pulling than when pushing the lever.17. In addition to its ability to act18, the emotional context can also be a potential source of distraction for motor actions. Indeed, when subjects are asked to press a button when a target appears, De Houwer and Tibboel19 showed that subjects are disturbed and thus alter their performance when an emotional image is simultaneously presented as a target. They posit that emotional stimuli divert attention from the target, leading to performance deterioration. Similarly, using a task-irrelevant distractor paradigm in which a target and a face with or without emotional expressions are presented simultaneously, Ambron and Foroni20 showed that the reaching trajectories are oriented towards faces with emotional expressions but not towards neutral expressions.

The anticipated emotion associated with the action influences the organization of the action

In addition to this emotional impact on the organization of movement, Eder and his colleagues have suggested that the link between emotion and movement is constructed through a system of representing the emotional consequences of action.21,22,23. The emotions felt by an individual in interaction with an object are linked not only to the valence of the object but also to the positive or negative consequences of his action on the object. Therefore, the emotion that the future action will produce promotes behaviors, while affective stimuli that match the affective consequence in valence facilitate response selection.24.25. For example, associating pressing a button with positive (appearance of a word) or negative (disappearance of a word) consequences produces affective compatibility effects; reaction time (RT) is shorter when the consequences of a behavior are congruent with the valence of the presented stimulus (pleasant/unpleasant). Thus, the emergence of a pleasant word or the disappearance of an unpleasant word is congruent; the subject performs the movement more quickly, thus reflecting on the facilitation of the processes of organizing the action. Conversely, the appearance of an unpleasant word and the disappearance of a pleasant word are incongruous; the movement is disturbed, thus reflecting the disturbance of these processes26. In accordance with the ideomotor account of action control27, the sensorimotor experience makes it possible to create maps of perceptual events associated with maps of motor characteristics according to the principle of affordance. These maps constitute a common global system of perception and action planning. When an intention to act emerges, the features encoding the event are weighted according to their relevance to the goal, the subject’s intention, and the affectively congruent outcome. Emotions can be viewed as perceptual representations of interoceptive events22. In applied contexts such as browsing different screens on a mobile device, it is evident that consumers will act based on their voluntary and selected search for perceptual objects. In the field of collective sports performance, manual strategies are affected by complex spatial configurations concerning partners (positive cues) and opponents (negative cues) to adopt the best action.

The organization of action by the emotionally marked environment versus anticipated emotions: the contribution of movement analysis

This integration of emotions in the ideomotor approach promotes the role of a multimodal representation of action in the planning and/or programming of movement.

Although individuals use very complex cognitive processes to organize their actions, such as a representation including sensory feedback and the resulting emotions, we have seen previously that they nevertheless remain dependent on the emotionally marked environment. What is the role of these complex cognitive processes in relation to the impact of the emotionally marked environment in the organization of movement?

Thus, the general objective of the present study was to identify using movement analysis whether the emotionally marked environment influences the processes that organize and modulate intentional movement or whether this organization is more dependent on the representation. emotional consequences of the action. In this way, the analysis of the movement is a privileged tool to be able to make this distinction, which makes it possible to summon the theories resulting from psychology in the field of neurosciences and, more particularly, in the study of motor control. It makes it possible to quantify these two potential emotional effects on different kinematic parameters which reflect the cognitive (cortical) and sensory-motor (subcortical) processes involved in the organization of the action.28.29. Thus, planning involves cognitive processes that allow us to determine the goal, direct attention to the goal, develop an abstract movement path, and make the decision to act. In this context, the kinematic parameters related to the initial impulse, the trajectory of the movement and the achievement of the goals are indicators of the functioning of these processes. Similarly, movement programming triggered by cognitive processes calls upon sensorimotor processes that configure the spatio-temporal components of the motor program. Thus, the duration, amplitude and average or maximum movement speed explain these processes. Finally, a complementary study of a late regulation of movements, called “homing phase”, makes it possible to quantify these two potential emotional effects on motor control in line, thus making it possible to adjust the final trajectory to reach the objective.30.

This research

Here, the task is to make an intentional movement of the arm to point with a stylus at a target that appears on the screen to reduce or magnify an emotional image that is initially present. From a motor point of view, enlarging an image simulates approach behavior, while reducing an image simulates avoidance behavior. Consistent with the motivational direction hypothesis, congruence between stimulus valence and behavior facilitates that behavior. Thus, approaching a pleasant stimulus or avoiding an unpleasant stimulus is positive and facilitates the behavior. We therefore consider that anticipating the approach of a pleasant image or avoiding an unpleasant image is associated with positive effects. Conversely, anticipating the approach of an unpleasant image or avoiding a pleasant image is associated with negative effects. Moreover, in the same vein as the work of Eder (Eder et al.21) and establishing a relationship of congruence and incongruence between “turning off/on” and a “negative/positive word”, enlarging a pleasant image and reducing an unpleasant image was considered congruent with a positive consequence while reducing a pleasant image and enlarging an unpleasant image was considered incompatible with a negative consequence.

The enlargement or reduction of the emotional image that will result is known to the participants before the pointing of the target. Participants will be affected by two emotional matters: emotions related to the stimulus (images) and anticipated emotions related to the consequences of the future action. These two emotional issues either match (pleasant image/enlargement and unpleasant image/reduction) or do not match (pleasant image/reduction and unpleasant images/enlargement) when they involve emotional conflict.

In agreement with the motivational leadership hypothesis and with De Houwer and Tibboel19 and Ambron and Ferroni20, we consider that the emotional context can be a potential source of distraction that can interfere with goal-directed actions. In this way, the emotional image could influence the processes that organize and modulate the organization of the pointing movement regardless of the consequences of the emotional action. The second hypothesis is related to the ideomotor approach (see Shin et al.31 for consideration) We hypothesize that the affective compatibility between the image and the anticipated consequences of the arm movement would have the most significant effect on the processes that prepare for and control the movement. A positive emotional consequence of the action (the enlargement of the pleasant image or the reduction of the unpleasant image) would facilitate the cognitive and sensory-motor processes organizing the movement of the arms. Conversely, a negative emotional consequence (the enlargement of an unpleasant image or the reduction of a pleasant image) would disturb it.


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