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May 03, 2009

Facilitation of motor imagery through movement-related cueing

Facilitation of motor imagery through movement-related cueing.

Brain Res.
2009 Apr 27;

Authors: Heremans E, Helsen WF, De Poel HJ, Alaerts K, Meyns P, Feys P

In the past few years, the use of motor imagery as an adjunct to other forms of training has been studied extensively. However, very little attention has been paid to how imagery could be used to greatest effect. It is well known that the provision of external cues has a beneficial effect on motor skill acquisition and performance during physical practice. Since physical execution and mental imagery share several common mechanisms, we hypothesized that motor imagery might be affected by external cues in a similar way. To examine this, we compared the motor imagery performance of three groups of 15 healthy participants who either physically performed or imagined performing a goal-directed cyclical wrist movement in the presence or the absence of visual and/or auditory external cues. As outcome measures, the participants' imagery vividness scores and eye movements were measured during all conditions. We found that visual movement-related cues improved the spatial accuracy of the participants' eye movements during imagery, while auditory cues specifically enhanced their temporal accuracy. Furthermore, both types of cues significantly improved the participants' imagery vividness. These findings indicate that subjects may imagine a movement in a better way when provided with external movement-related stimuli, which may possibly be useful with regard to the efficiency of mental practice in (clinical) training protocols.

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