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Imaging imagining actions
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Integrative Medical Biology.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Mental training has been studied extensively for the past century but we are still not completely sure how it affects brain and behavior. The aim of this doctoral thesis was to examine one aspect of mental training i.e. motor imagery. In Study I, active high jumpers were trained for 6 weeks using a motor imagery mental training program. We measured behavioral effects in motor parameters such as total height, false attempts, take off angle, and bar clearance. A significant improvement was found on the bar clearance component compared to a control group of high jumpers that did not participate in the mental training program. The results emphasize the importance of using appropriate outcome measures since mental training may affect distinct features of the movement rather than the entire movement. Study II used fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to examine the neural correlates of imagery for active high jumpers, and also how imagery training affects brain activity. Active high jumpers were compared to a control group of high jumping novices and the results showed that high jumpers were able to activate motor regions, whereas controls used parts of the visual system to perform imagery of the high jump. Thus, we were able to show how important well established motor representations are in order to achieve a neural overlap between imagery and action. In study III we examined the effects after motor, mental and combined motor and mental training on a finger tapping task. Behaviorally, even though mental training improved performance, adding mental training to motor training did not improve the results beyond only using motor training. Imaging results showed that motor and mental training engaged different neural systems, with motor training associated with motor activity and mental training with visual activity. The combination of motor and mental training activated both motor and visual systems. Additionally combining motor and mental training resulted in transfer to an untrained motor sequence and neural data indicated that cerebellum mediated the transfer. The overall findings explain how mental training can be used to improve motor performance and motor parameters. Moreover, it also illustrates that the neural processes underlying such improvements may be distinct from motor training and that the brain may react differently during mental training depending on prior physical experience of the action.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Integrativ medicinsk biologi , 2008. , 63 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1211
Keyword [en]
mental training, motor training, novices, imaging, athletes, fMRI, internal imagery, motor representation, brain systems, practice, learning, transfer, active
National Category
Physiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1910ISBN: 978-91-7264-658-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-1910DiVA: diva2:142393
Public defence
2008-11-28, BiA201, Biologihuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-11-10 Created: 2008-11-10 Last updated: 2010-01-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Internal imagery training in active high jumpers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Internal imagery training in active high jumpers
2008 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 49, no 2, 133-140 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The main purpose of this study was to examine whether the use of internal imagery would affect high jumping performance for active high jumping athletes. Over a period of six weeks, a group of active high jumpers were trained with an internal imagery program for a total of 72 minutes. This group was compared to a control group consisting of active high jumpers that only maintained their regular work-outs during the same time period. Four variables were measured; jumping height, number of failed attempts, take-off angle, and bar clearance. There was a significant improvement on bar clearance for the group that trained imagery (p < 0.05) but not for the control group. No other differences were found. The results suggest that internal imagery training may be used to improve a component of a complex motor skill. Possible explanations and future recommendations are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 2008
Keyword
mental practice, internal imagery, training
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-9416 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9450.2008.00625.x (DOI)18352982 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2008-04-01 Created: 2008-04-01 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
2. Motor representations and practice affect brain systems underlying imagery: an FMRI study of internal imagery in novices and active high jumpers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Motor representations and practice affect brain systems underlying imagery: an FMRI study of internal imagery in novices and active high jumpers
2008 (English)In: The Open Neuroimaging Journal, ISSN 1874-4400, E-ISSN 1874-4400, Vol. 2, 5-13 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate differences in brain activity between one group of active high jumpers and one group of high jumping novices (controls) when performing motor imagery of a high jump. It was also investigated how internal imagery training affects neural activity. The results showed that active high jumpers primarily activated motor areas, e.g. pre-motor cortex and cerebellum. Novices activated visual areas, e.g. superior occipital cortex. Imagery training resulted in a reduction of activity in parietal cortex. These results indicate that in order to use an internal perspective during motor imagery of a complex skill, one must have well established motor representations of the skill which then translates into a motor/internal pattern of brain activity. If not, an external perspective will be used and the corresponding brain activation will be a visual/external pattern. Moreover, the findings imply that imagery training reduces the activity in parietal cortex suggesting that imagery is performed more automatic and results in a more efficient motor representation more easily accessed during motor performance.

National Category
Neurosciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-19454 (URN)10.2174/1874440000802010005 (DOI)19018312 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2009-03-05 Created: 2009-03-05 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
3. Learning by doing and learning by thinking: An fMRI study of combining motor and mental training
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning by doing and learning by thinking: An fMRI study of combining motor and mental training
2008 (English)In: Frontiers in human neuroscience, ISSN 1662-5161, Vol. 2, no 5, 1-7 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [sv]

The current study investigated behavioral and neural effects of motor, mental, and combined motor and mental training on a finger tapping task. The motor or mental training groups trained on a finger-sequence for a total of 72 min over six weeks. The motor and mental training group received 72 min motor training and in addition 72 min mental training. Results showed that all groups increased their tapping performance significantly on the trained sequence. After training fMRI data was collected and indicated training specific increases in ventral pre-motor cortex following motor training, and in fusiform gyrus following mental training. Combined motor and mental training activated both the motor and the visual regions. In addition, motor and mental training showed a significant increase in tapping performance on an untrained sequence (transfer). FMRI scanning indicated that the transfer effect involved the cerebellum. Conclusions were that combined motor and mental training recruited both motor and visual systems, and that combined motor and mental training improves motor flexibility via connections from both motor and cognitive systems to the cerebellum.

Keyword
transfer, fMRI, cerebellum, mental, motor, training
National Category
Neurosciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-10487 (URN)10.3389/neuro.09.005.2008 (DOI)
Available from: 2008-09-16 Created: 2008-09-16 Last updated: 2015-10-08Bibliographically approved

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