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Influence of emotional stimuli on lower limb cutaneous reflexes during human gait

Abstract : Previous research has shown that cutaneous reflexes are modulated when walking with a threat to stability. It is unclear if this reflex modulation is purely related to the context of the imposed threat or if emotional changes associated with the threat exert an independent influence on reflex excitability. This study investigated the influence of emotional stimuli on lower limb cutaneous reflexes during treadmill walking. Twenty-eight healthy young adults walked at a self-selected pace while viewing pictures that manipulated emotional arousal and valence (confirmed with electrodermal and self-report measures). Throughout each trial, cutaneous reflexes were evoked by electrically stimulating the sural nerve at heel contact, mid-stance, or toe off. Surface electromyography of the ipsilateral soleus (SOL), medial gastrocnemius (MG), tibialis anterior (TA), biceps femoris (BF), and vastus lateralis (VL) was recorded to assess reflexes. Highly arousing pictures, independent of valence, significantly facilitated TA, and trended toward facilitating SOL and BF reflexes during mid-stance. Unpleasant pictures, independent of arousal, significantly reduced reflex amplitudes in BF during mid-stance and TA during toe off. While changes in background muscle activity and step cadence were observed, they did not correlate with reflex changes. This study provides the first evidence that emotional stimuli exert an independent influence on cutaneous reflex excitability during gait. As cutaneous reflexes contribute to stability during gait, these findings support the notion that emotional state influences important sensorimotor processes underlying balance control.
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Contributor : Cécile LANGLET Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 5:22:41 PM
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Martin Zaback, Brian Horslen, Taylor Cleworth, Laurel Collings, Cécile Langlet, et al.. Influence of emotional stimuli on lower limb cutaneous reflexes during human gait. Neuroscience Letters, Elsevier, 2018, 664, pp.123-127. ⟨10.1016/j.neulet.2017.11.013⟩. ⟨hal-02352219⟩



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