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Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 May 22;8:328. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00328. eCollection 2014.

Mental representation and motor imagery training.

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Neurocognition and Action-Biomechanics Research Group, Center of Excellence "Cognitive Interaction Technology", Research Institute for Cognition and Robotics, Bielefeld University Bielefeld, Germany.


Research in sports, dance and rehabilitation has shown that basic action concepts (BACs) are fundamental building blocks of mental action representations. BACs are based on chunked body postures related to common functions for realizing action goals. In this paper, we outline issues in research methodology and an experimental method, the structural dimensional analysis of mental representation (SDA-M), to assess action-relevant representational structures that reflect the organization of BACs. The SDA-M reveals a strong relationship between cognitive representation and performance if complex actions are performed. We show how the SDA-M can improve motor imagery training and how it contributes to our understanding of coaching processes. The SDA-M capitalizes on the objective measurement of individual mental movement representations before training and the integration of these results into the motor imagery training. Such motor imagery training based on mental representations (MTMR) has been applied successfully in professional sports such as golf, volleyball, gymnastics, windsurfing, and recently in the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered a stroke.


basic action concepts; mental imagery; mental representation; mental simulation; motor imagery

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