Performance improvements from imagery: evidence that internal visual imagery is superior to external visual imagery for slalom performance

Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Oct 21;7:697. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00697. eCollection 2013.

Abstract

We report three experiments investigating the hypothesis that use of internal visual imagery (IVI) would be superior to external visual imagery (EVI) for the performance of different slalom-based motor tasks. In Experiment 1, three groups of participants (IVI, EVI, and a control group) performed a driving-simulation slalom task. The IVI group achieved significantly quicker lap times than EVI and the control group. In Experiment 2, participants performed a downhill running slalom task under both IVI and EVI conditions. Performance was again quickest in the IVI compared to EVI condition, with no differences in accuracy. Experiment 3 used the same group design as Experiment 1, but with participants performing a downhill ski-slalom task. Results revealed the IVI group to be significantly more accurate than the control group, with no significant differences in time taken to complete the task. These results support the beneficial effects of IVI for slalom-based tasks, and significantly advances our knowledge related to the differential effects of visual imagery perspectives on motor performance.

Keywords: VMIQ-2; imagery ability; kinesthetic imagery; mental practice; speed-accuracy tradeoff.