What happens to your feelings when you slouch? Go all negative on you?

There have been studies that have confirmed that changes in body posture are related to a subject’s feelings and memory recall. However, until now, there hasn’t been a study that explores brain activity (EEG patterns) when combining body posture and emotional recall.

A recent study explored the electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns under erect and slouch body postures while recalling positive and negative events. The purpose of this study was to explore EEG patterns under both postures while recalling happy or depressive events.

Twenty-eight healthy college students were instructed to sit quietly with their eyes closed for 1 min, and then to sit in erect or slouch postures while recalling happy or depressive events for 1 min each. EEG, with linked-ear references, was recorded and analyzed under five conditions. The results showed that, independent of the body position, recalling happy events in a collapsed position significantly increased the high-frequency oscillatory activity than recalling depressive event in an erect posture. This suggests that it takes much more effort and time to evoke and maintain positive thoughts in a collapsed position. This was also confirmed by the significant increase in reaction time when attempting to recall positive events in the collapsed body position as compared to the erect body position.

The conclusion was that evoking positive thoughts in a slouch body position takes more effort or arousal than other positions as indicated by the significant increase in high-frequency oscillatory activities.

The implication for cognitive behavior therapy is that body posture matters; clients have more difficulty shifting to evoking a positive emotional state when sitting in a collapsed position than when sitting in an erect position. The study further supports the theory that body posture might affect our mental, emotion and memory recall.

This may have significant implications for people who are depressed. Walking in a slouch posture may decrease energy and increase negative emotion, such as sadness, loneliness, isolation and sleepiness. This slouch position accompanies feelings of ‘wanting to sit down, low energy, depressive feelings or being ‘zombie-like.’

Alternately, when walking in an erect posture and skipping, participants increased their energy and experienced more energetic, happy and positive feelings. In addition, they found that the erect posture makes subject much stronger to resist the downward pressure compared to the collapsed position.

In a therapy session, most depressed patients have a slumped collapsed posture which would inhibit accessing positive thoughts thus augmenting their depressive ones. To increase the access to positive thoughts, the patient benefits greatly by sitting erect and looking up. In this position, positive and negative thoughts can equally be accessed.

So, think about your posture, think about accessing positive thoughts, stand tall!!