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Biol Psychol. 2011 May;87(2):311-3. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2011.03.009. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

Leaning embodies desire: evidence that leaning forward increases relative left frontal cortical activation to appetitive stimuli.

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Texas A&M University, USA.


We often lean toward things or people we desire. Does the converse happen as well? Does simply leaning forward increase patterns of neural activation associated with desire? Desire can be conceptualized as similar to the broader construct, approach motivation. Research has found that manipulated body postures reduce approach motivation (Harmon-Jones and Peterson, 2009; Riskind and Gotay, 1982). The present experiment tested whether leaning forward, a body posture associated with approach motivation, would increase approach motivation. We measured a pattern of neural activation associated with approach motivation, relative left frontal cortical activation, in response to pictures of appetitive (desserts) vs. neutral objects (rocks) while participants leaned forward or reclined backward. Leaning forward increased relative left frontal cortical activation to appetitive vs. neutral pictures; the reclining condition produced no differences between stimuli.

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