Colour-induced relationship between affect and reaching kinematics during a goal-directed aiming task
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- Williams, C.K., Grierson, L.E.M. & Carnahan, H. Exp Brain Res (2011) 212: 555. doi:10.1007/s00221-011-2766-0
A link between affect and action has been supported by the discovery that threat information is prioritized through an action-centred pathway—the dorsal visual stream. Magnocellular afferents, which originate from the retina and project to dorsal stream structures, are suppressed by exposure to diffuse red light, which diminishes humans’ perception of threat-based images. In order to explore the role of colour in the relationship between affect and action, participants donned different pairs of coloured glasses (red, yellow, green, blue and clear) and completed Positive and Negative Affect Scale questionnaires as well as a series of target-directed aiming movements. Analyses of affect scores revealed a significant main effect for affect valence and a significant interaction between colour and valence: perceived positive affect was significantly smaller for the red condition. Kinematic analyses of variable error in the primary movement direction and Pearson correlation analyses between the displacements travelled prior to and following peak velocity indicated reduced accuracy and application of online control processes while wearing red glasses. Variable error of aiming was also positively and significantly correlated with negative affect scores under the red condition. These results suggest that only red light modulates the affect–action link by suppressing magnocellular activity, which disrupts visual processing for movement control. Furthermore, previous research examining the effect of the colour red on psychomotor tasks and perceptual acceleration of threat-based imagery suggest that stimulus-driven motor performance tasks requiring online control may be particularly susceptible to this effect.