Being (un)moved by mental time travel

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Mental imagery of events in the past or future, and of unpleasant or pleasant events, has been found to lead to spontaneous backward/forward bodily motions. Both time and emotion are represented along a spatial continuum, and activation of these representations seems to be simulated in spontaneous changes in body posture. We performed a conceptual replication and extension of an earlier study by Miles, Nind, and Macrae (2010) who reported clear postural effects when thinking of the past and the future. We additionally tested whether changes in posture appear when thinking of an emotional event. Volunteers engaged in mental imagery, involving combinations of time intervals and emotions. We simultaneously recorded center-of-pressure (COP) changes. Results revealed neither an effect of imagery of time nor of emotion on body posture. We conclude that embodied effects of imagery of abstract items on body posture may be less robust than suggested by previous literature.




Stins, J., Habets, L., Jongeling, R., & Cañal-Bruland, R. (2016). Being (un)moved by mental time travel. Consciousness and Cognition, 42, 374–381.

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