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Feb 11, 2008

Effect of mental imagery on the development of skilled motor actions

Effect of mental imagery on the development of skilled motor actions.

Percept Mot Skills. 2007 Dec;105(3 Pt 1):803-26

Authors: Fontani G, Migliorini S, Benocci R, Facchini A, Casini M, Corradeschi F

To test the effect of imagery in the training of skilled movements, an experiment was designed in which athletes learned a new motor action and trained themselves for a month either by overt action or by mental imagery of the action. The experiment was carried out with 30 male karateka (M age = 35 yr., SD = 8.7; M years of practice = 6, SD = 3) instructed to perform an action (Ura-Shuto-Uchi) that they had not previously learned. The athletes were divided into three groups: Untrained (10 subjects who did not perform any training), Action Trained (10 subjects who performed Ura-Shuto-Uchi training daily for 16 minutes), and Mental Imagery (10 subjects who performed mental imagery training of Ura-Shuto-Uchi daily for 16 minutes). The subjects were tested five times, once every 7 days. During each test, they performed a series of 60 motor action trials. In Tests 1, 3, and 5, they also performed a series of 60 mental imagery trials. During the trials, an electroencephalogram (EEG), electromyography (EMG), muscle strength and power, and other physiological parameters were recorded. The results differed by group. Untrained subjects did not show significant effects. In the Action Trained group, training had an effect on reactivity and movement speed, with a reduction of EMG activation and reaction times. Moreover, muscle strength, power, and work increased significantly. The Mental Imagery group showed the same effects on muscle strength, power, and work, but changes in reactivity were not observed. In the Mental Imagery group, the study of Movement Related Brain Macropotentials indicated a progressive modification of the profile of the waves from Test 1 to Test 5 during imagery, showing significant variations of the amplitude of the waves related to the premotor and motor execution periods. Results show that motor imagery can influence muscular abilities such as strength and power and can modify Movement Related Brain Macropotentials, the profile of which potentially could be used to verify the effectiveness of motor imagery training.

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