Researchers at the Greek Aerospace Medical Association and Space Research find that mental practice improves performance in 20 healthy volunteers during a flight simulation program, as compared with passively watching performance... Researchers at the Greek Aerospace Medical Association and Space Research in Thessalonika, investigated the effectiveness of motor imagery training on performance during a flight simulation program. The study also looked at the mechanisms of how mental practice becomes motor learning.

Twenty healthy volunteers participated in the study, divided in two groups: the control group and the imagery-training group. The subjects of the imagery group received additional imagery training. The subjects of the actual performing group were passively observed the task, in order to have equal time of exposure to the task.

Performance scores and physiological parameters such as heart rate, respiratory rate, eye blinking activity and muscular activity were recorded during all sessions, to measure mental effort and attentional focus.

The results revealed significantly higher performance level in the imagery-training group as compared to the control group. Heart rate and respiratory rate significantly increased during imagery sessions, as compared to rest.

A slight degree of electromyographic activity was observed while subjects imagined movement. The findings support the notion that mental practice improves motor performance in a task where spatio-temporal or dynamic control is strongly required, probably a top-down mechanism based on a central representation of the movements.

Citation: Papadelis C, Kourtidou-Papadeli C, Bamidis P, Albani M. Effects of imagery training on cognitive performance and use of physiological measures as an assessment tool of mental effort. Brain and Cognition. 2007 Jun;64(1):74-85. Epub 2007 Mar 1. [email protected]