Effect of imagined movement speed on subsequent motor performance

J Mot Behav. 2008 Mar;40(2):117-32. doi: 10.3200/JMBR.40.2.117-132.


Researchers realize that motor imagery (MI) duration is closely linked to actual motor action duration. In 2 experiments, the authors investigated the effect of changing MI speed on actual movement duration over a 3-week training period. Experiment 1 involved 2 series of body movements that 24 participants mentally performed faster or slower than their actual execution speeds. The fast MI group's actual times decreased on subsequent performance. Participants in Experiment 2 were 21 skilled athletes who increased (decreased) their well-rehearsed actual movement times after MI training at a slow (fast) speed. The effect was task-related, however: MI affected only self-initiated movement. The effect of MI on actual speed execution supports the ideomotor theory because anticipation of sensory consequences of actions is mentally represented.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arm
  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Male
  • Martial Arts / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reference Values