Implicit visual sensitivity towards slim versus overweight bodies modulates motor resonance in the primary motor cortex: a tDCS study.

STERGIOS MAKRIS, Valentina Cazzato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Motor resonance (MR) can be influenced by individual differences and similarity in the physical appearance between the actor and observer. Recently, we reported that action simulation is modulated by an implicit visual sensitivity towards normal weight, as compared to overweight bodies. Furthermore, recent research has suggested the existence of an action observation network responsible for MR, with limited evidence whether the primary motor cortex (M1) is part of this. Here, we aimed at expanding our previous findings with regards to the role of an implicit normal-weight-body preference in the MR mechanism, while at the same time we tested the functional relevance of M1 to MR, by
using a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) protocol. Seventeen normal-weight and 17 overweight participants were asked to observe normal-weight or overweight actors reaching and grasping a light or heavy cube and then, at the end of each video-clip to indicate the correct cube weight. Before the task, all participants received 15 mins of sham or cathodal tDCS over the left M1. Measures of anti-fat attitudes were also collected. During sham tDCS, all participants were better in simulating the actions
performed by normal-weight, as compared to overweight models. Surprisingly though, cathodal tDCS selectively improved the ability in the overweight group to simulate actions performed by the overweight models. This effect was not associated with scores
of fat phobic attitudes or implicit anti-fat bias. Our findings are discussed in the context of relevance of M1 to MR and its social modulation by anti-fat attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • action
  • observation
  • primary motor cortex
  • tDCS
  • motor resonance
  • anti-fat
  • attitudes

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