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Better safe than sorry? The safety margin surrounding the body is increased by anxiety

Sambo, CF; Iannetti, GD; (2013) Better safe than sorry? The safety margin surrounding the body is increased by anxiety. Journal of Neuroscience , 33 (35) 14225 - 14230. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0706-13.2013. Green open access

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Abstract

The defensive peripersonal space represents a "safety margin" advantageous for survival. Its spatial extension and the possible relationship with personality traits have never been investigated. Here, in a population of 15 healthy human participants, we show that the defensive peripersonal space has a sharp boundary, located between 20 and 40 cm from the face, and that within such space there is a thin, "highest-risk area" closest to the face (i.e., an "ultra-near" defensive space). Single-subject analysis revealed clear interindividual differences in the extension of such peripersonal space. These differences are positively related to individual variability in trait anxiety. These findings point to the potential for measuring a range of defensive behaviors in relation to individual levels of anxiety. Such measures will allow developing procedures to test risk assessment abilities, particularly in professions that require reacting quickly to aversive stimuli near the body, such as firemen, policemen, and military officers. This may also lead to possible interventions to improve their performance under pressure.

Type: Article
Title: Better safe than sorry? The safety margin surrounding the body is increased by anxiety
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0706-13.2013
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0706-13.2013
Language: English
Additional information: Available for re-use under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Neuro, Physiology and Pharmacology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1404542
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