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The Effects of Mental Practice on Motor Skill Learning and Performance: A Meta-analysis

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Abstract

A longstanding research question in the sport psychology literature has been whether a given amount of mental practice prior to performing a motor skill will enhance one's subsequent performance. The research literature, however, has not provided any clear-cut answers to this question and this has prompted the present, more comprehensive review of existing research using the meta-analytic strategy proposed by Glass (1977). From the 60 studies yielding 146 effect sizes the overall average effect size was .48, which suggests, as did Richardson (1967a), that mentally practicing a motor skill influences performance somewhat better than no practice at all. Effect sizes were also compared on a number of variables thought to moderate the effects of mental practice. Results from these comparisons indicated that studies employing cognitive tasks had larger average effect sizes than motor or strength tasks and that published studies had larger average effect sizes than unpublished studies. These findings are discus...
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... There is compelling behavioral evidence that combining AO and/or MI with physical practice (PP) promotes motor learning and recovery [11][12][13]. At the fundamental level, functional brain imaging studies have demonstrated that training with AO and MI practice can leverage experience-based plasticity in cortical structures. ...
... Interestingly, the behavioral results were predicted by distinct profiles of muscle activation across experimental conditions, particularly reduced involvement of the triceps brachii during both MI and AO compared to control. EEG-EMG imaginary coherence during force trials peaked within the alpharange (8)(9)(10)(11)(12). Compared to AO and the control condition, CMC patterns during MI ...
... Interestingly, the behavioral results were predicted by distinct profiles of muscle activation across experimental conditions, particularly reduced involvement of the triceps brachii during both MI and AO compared to control. EEG-EMG imaginary coherence during force trials peaked within the alpha-range (8)(9)(10)(11)(12). Compared to AO and the control condition, CMC patterns during MI involved greater connectivity between the agonists of the force task and EEG signals recorded from central regions of the scalp. ...
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The neurophysiological processes underlying the priming effects of motor imagery (MI) on force performance remain poorly understood. Here, we tested whether the priming effects of embedded MI practice involved short-term changes in corticomotor connectivity. In a within-subjects counterbalanced experimental design, participants (n = 20) underwent a series of experimental sessions consisting of successive maximal isometric contractions of elbow flexor muscles. During inter-trial rest periods, we administered MI, action observation (AO), and a control passive recovery condition. We collected electromyograms (EMG) from both agonists and antagonists of the force task, in addition to electroencephalographic (EEG) brain potentials during force trials. Force output was higher during MI compared to AO and control conditions (both p < 0.01), although fatigability was similar across experimental conditions. We also found a weaker relationship between triceps brachii activation and force output during MI and AO compared to the control condition. Imaginary coherence topographies of alpha (8–12 Hz) oscillations revealed increased connectivity between EEG sensors from central scalp regions and EMG signals from agonists during MI, compared to AO and control. Present results suggest that the priming effects of MI on force performance are mediated by a more efficient cortical drive to motor units yielding reduced agonist/antagonist coactivation.
... Estudios metaanalíticos sobre el tema en estudio (Driskell et al., 1994;Feltz y Landers, 1983;Hinshaw, 1991). Feltz y Landers (1983) concluyeron que la práctica mental de una destreza motriz influye en mayor medida en el desempeño (TE= 0.48), al compararla con no realizar práctica del todo, y, además, que el efecto es mayor en destrezas cognitivas en comparación con las destrezas motrices o de fuerza. ...
... Estudios metaanalíticos sobre el tema en estudio (Driskell et al., 1994;Feltz y Landers, 1983;Hinshaw, 1991). Feltz y Landers (1983) concluyeron que la práctica mental de una destreza motriz influye en mayor medida en el desempeño (TE= 0.48), al compararla con no realizar práctica del todo, y, además, que el efecto es mayor en destrezas cognitivas en comparación con las destrezas motrices o de fuerza. Por su parte, Driskell et al. (1994) determinaron que la práctica mental presenta un efecto positivo en el desempeño (TE= 0.52), el cual es moderado por el tipo de destreza, la duración de la intervención, y el tiempo para medir la retención. ...
... La búsqueda se realizó con la siguiente frase booleana: ("mental practice" OR imagery) AND ("motor learning" OR "motor performance" OR "skill acquisition" OR "motor skill performance") NOT (automobiles OR cars OR vehicles). A su vez, se examinaron las listas de referencias de los estudios incluidos y de los metaanálisis previos encontrados (Driskell et al., 1994;Feltz y Landers, 1983;Hinshaw, 1991). Los artículos localizados a los que no se tuvo acceso al documento completo, se le envió un correo electrónico a los autores solicitando el texto completo. ...
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En el proceso de adquisición de destrezas motrices la práctica es un elemento fundamental por que facilita el aprendizaje, esta práctica puede ser de dos tipos: física o mental. El objetivo del presente estudio fue determinar el tamaño de efecto de la práctica física (PF), práctica mental (PM) y la práctica combinada (PC), a lo largo del proceso de adquisición y retención en el desempeño de las destrezas motrices, utilizando el enfoque metaanalítico y el análisis de posibles variables moderadoras. Se utilizó el modelo de efectos aleatorios para calcular el tamaño de efecto (TE). Se incluyeron 24 estudios y se obtuvo un total de 150 TE, separados en cuatro grupos. En la fase de adquisición se encontró que la PF (TE=1.75; n=36; IC=0.96,3.55; Q=113; I2=92%), la PM (TE=0.80; n=36; IC=0.50,1.09; Q=108; I2=74%) y la PC (TE=1.78; n=22; IC=1.39,2.18; Q=167; I2=79%) mejoraron su desempeño; además, el grupo control (GC) mejoró el desempeño en la adquisición (TE=0.18; n=22; IC=0.02,0.35; Q=19; I2=0%). Una metaregresión indicó que solo la práctica física, mental y combinada predicen significativamente el TE. En la fase de retención, ni la PF (TE=-0.97; n=9; IC=-0.41,0.02; Q=12; I2=29%), la PM (TE=0.62; n=6; IC=-0.19,1.45; Q=22; I2=83%), la PC (TE=-0.01; n=14; IC=-0.26,0.25; Q=23; I2=46%), ni el GC (TE=-0.15; n=5; IC=-0.75,0.44; Q=11; I2=66%) presentaron un cambio significativo. Se analizaron las posibles variables moderadoras. Los resultados sugieren que los tres tipos de práctica mejoran en el desempeño, en la fase de adquisición; mientras que, en la etapa de retención, favorecen a mantener lo aprendido. La PM, no reemplaza la PF, no obstante, bajo algunas condiciones, se puede complementar la PF con PM.
... By mental imagery intervention, we mean the deliberate simulation and/or manipulation of action-oriented mental content (e.g., perceptual, motor, affective, somatic) by an agent in the absence of concomitant physical movements (Driskell et al., 1994;Kosslyn et al., 2006). Mental imagery has been shown to be an effective strategy for enhancing the development of skills in multiple domains (Driskell et al., 1994;Feltz & Landers, 1983;Fridland, 2021;Guillot et al., 2009;Hanakawa et al., 2003Hanakawa et al., , 2008Jeannerod, 1994). Imaginal retraining has also been tested in the alcohol context with promising first results involving reduced craving (Moritz et al., 2019), lowered levels of alcohol consumption (Hagger et al., 2011) and decreases in heavy episodic drinking (Conroy et al., 2015). ...
Article
Objectives: In terms of dual process models, behaviour can be conceived of as the outcome of an interplay between reflective, top-down and impulsive, bottom-up processes. Behaviour change interventions may benefit from targeting both types of processes in a coherent way. One approach to this, in the context of reducing hazardous drinking, is to combine imagery involving real-life situations involving alcohol with the simple actions involved in Approach Bias Modification (ApBM), a form of Cognitive Bias Modification. Design: We developed and tested a version of this Imagery-enhanced Approach Bias Modification (IApBM) in an experimental design, with two independent factors: imagery versus control and ApBM versus control training components (N = 139). Methods: An effect of integrating the training factors was hypothesized on the alcohol-approach bias of an alcohol Approach-Avoidance Task. Further exploratory analyses were performed for the bias on alcohol-related Single Attribute Implicit Association Tests and on alcohol-related questionnaires. Finally, the psychometric properties of an imagery interference effect during training were explored. Results: Results showed no benefit of the training and in fact suggested a negative interaction in which combining the training components appeared to block reductions in craving effected by each in isolation. The reliability of the imagery-related interference effect was high and the effect was correlated with alcohol-related scales. Conclusions: In conclusion, it appears that interference between training components decreases their individual effects when combining imagery and ApBM in the current way. The imagery-related interference effects that could be measured during training conditions may be useful as an implicit measure of automatic processes underlying hazardous drinking.
... In turn, the motor schema involved in the actual activity is reinforced during MI so that the processes occurring during imagery aid performance, reinforcing coordination patterns for motor skill development [2]. Therefore, MI practice is a technique that is increasingly used in the therapeutic context to improve the performance of specific motor skills, and whenever possible, it is combined with physical practice [2,4,5]. Thus, MI practice has been studied in healthy subjects, athletes [6][7][8][9][10][11][12], as well as in multiple neurological conditions [13][14][15][16] and pain conditions [17][18][19][20], among others. ...
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Motor imagery (MI) training is increasingly used to improve the performance of specific motor skills. The Movement Imagery Questionnaire-3 (MIQ-3) is an instrument for assessing MI ability validated in Spanish although its reliability has not yet been studied in the elderly population. The main objective of this study was to test its reliability in institutionalized elderly people. Secondarily, we studied whether there are differences according to gender and age in MI ability (measured by the MIQ-3) and in temporal congruency (measured by mental chronometry of elbow and knee flexion-extension and getting up and sitting down from chair movements). The subjects were 60 elderly, institutionalized, Spanish-speaking individuals without cognitive impairment or dementia, and aged between 70 and 100 years. Cronbach’s alpha showed high internal consistency in the internal visual and external visual subscales and moderate in the kinesthetic subscale. The intraclass correlation coefficient showed good test-retest reliability for all three subscales. Mixed factorial analysis of variances (ANOVAs) showed that MI ability decreased with increasing age range, the imagery time decreased concerning the execution of the same movement, and there were no gender differences in either IM ability or temporal congruence. The Spanish version of the MIQ-3 is a reliable instrument for measuring MI ability in institutionalized elderly.
... The positive performance enhancing effects of imagery are well documented and show that, although mental practice is supplemental to actual practice, it is still better than nothing. Furthermore, it has been suggested that imagery has worked well in a variety of different sporting disciplines (see Feltz & Landers, 1983;Short, Bruggeman, Engel, Marback, Wang, Willadsen, & Short, 2002;Stewart & Hall, 2017;Truelove, 2014). ...
Thesis
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