Attitudes trigger motor behavior through conditioned associations: Neural and behavioral evidence

It has long been argued that attitudes prepare the body to act. While early evidence suggested that evaluations (positive or negative) are rigidly linked to specific motor behaviors (approach or avoidant), recent behavioral evidence suggests that this linkage is context dependent. Here, we report that the neural circuitry mediating the relationship between evaluations and motor responses promotes flexibility in our embodiment of attitudes. In a behavioral study, stimulus–response relationships between evaluations and actions were rapidly conditioned. In a neuroimaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging) study, repetition suppression demonstrated that these relationships are formed in neural systems traditionally implicated in arbitrary sensorimotor mappings (i.e. the dorsal premotor cortex and posterior superior parietal lobule). These data provide the first neurophysiological evidence for attitude embodiment and demonstrate that relationships between evaluation and action are inherently malleable.

C. McCall, C. Tipper, J. Blascovich, and S. Grafton
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Pages: 1–9
Date: September, 2011
ICB Affiliated Authors: Scott T Grafton