Imaging Posture Veils Neural Signals


Whereas modern brain imaging often demands holding body positions incongruent with everyday life, posture governs both neural activity and cognitive performance. Humans commonly perform while upright; yet, many neuroimaging methodologies require participants to remain motionless and adhere to non-ecological comportments within a confined space. This inconsistency between ecological postures and imaging constraints undermines the transferability and generalizability of many a neuroimaging assay. Here we highlight the influence of posture on brain function and behavior. Specifically, we challenge the tacit assumption that brain processes and cognitive performance are comparable across a spectrum of positions. We provide an integrative synthesis regarding the increasingly prominent influence of imaging postures on autonomic function, mental capacity, sensory thresholds, and neural activity. Arguing that neuroimagers and cognitive scientists could benefit from considering the influence posture wields on both general functioning and brain activity, we examine existing imaging technologies and the potential of portable and versatile imaging devices (e.g., functional near infrared spectroscopy). Finally, we discuss ways that accounting for posture may help unveil the complex brain processes of everyday cognition.

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience