Physical exercise and a yogic technique of progressive muscle tensing and relaxing have the power to alter people’s visual perceptions on a classic anxiety test, according to a study in PLOS One. Previous research has shown that people who are feeling socially anxious perceive point-light displays of ambiguous human figures as facing threateningly towards them more often than facing away. The study by Adam Heenan, a Queen’s University PhD candidate in psychology, found that people regarded these figures as less threatening after brief engagement in exercise or muscle relaxation.
“We found that people who either walked or jogged on a treadmill for 10 minutes perceived these ambiguous figures as facing towards them (the observer) less often than those who simply stood on the treadmill. The same was true when people performed progressive muscle relaxation,” said Heenan in a Queen’s University press release.
Both Physical Exercise and Progressive Muscle Relaxation Reduce the Facing-the-Viewer Bias in Biological Motion Perception. (Heenan A, Troje. PLoS ONE 9(7): e99902. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099902)
A new view of the world (Press Release, Queen’s University, July 17, 2014.)