Effect of Video Observation and Motor Imagery on Simple Reaction Time in Cadet Pilots

J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2020 Dec 5;5(4):89. doi: 10.3390/jfmk5040089.


Neuromotor training can improve motor performance in athletes and patients. However, few data are available about their effect on reaction time (RT). We investigated the influence of video observation/motor imagery (VO/MI) on simple RT to visual and auditory stimuli. The experimental group comprised 21 cadets who performed VO/MI training over 4 weeks. Nineteen cadets completed a sham intervention as control. The main outcome measure was RT to auditory and visual stimuli for the upper and lower limbs. The RT to auditory stimuli improved significantly post-intervention in both groups (control vs. experimental mean change for upper limbs: -40 ms vs. -40 ms, p = 0.0008; for lower limbs: -50 ms vs. -30 ms, p = 0.0174). A trend towards reduced RT to visual stimuli was observed (for upper limbs: -30 ms vs. -20 ms, p = 0.0876; for lower limbs: -30 ms vs. -20 ms, p = 0.0675). The interaction term was not significant. Only the specific VO/MI training produced a linear correlation between the improvement in the RT to auditory and visual stimuli for the upper (r = 0.703) and lower limbs (r = 0.473). In conclusion, VO/MI training does not improve RT when compared to control, but it may be useful in individuals who need to simultaneously develop a fast response to different types of stimuli.

Keywords: motor imagery; pilots; reaction time; video observation.