IMAGERY AND PHYSICAL PRACTICE ACTIVATE THE SAME BRAIN AREAS IN NOVEL AND LEARNED TASKS
Lacourse, M. G., Randolph Orr, E., & Turner, J. A. (2003). Functional cerebellar activation during novel and learned executed and imagined sequential hand movements. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 35(5), Supplement abstract 1556.
Ss (N = 5) were asked to execute or imagine a self-paced sequential key press task at 4 Hz inside a magnetic resonance scanner during 30-second periods before (the novel condition) and after one week of physical practice (the learned condition). Responses in the cerebellum were monitored in the novel and learned conditions in both physical and imagined trials.
Key press rate improved significantly from the novel to learned condition indicating learning. Functional activation was centered in motor output regions during executed and imagined movements in the novel condition although lateralization and activation extent were varied. Activation relocated to motor planning regions in the learned condition for both execution and imagery, although intensity and extent were substantially less for imagery. Imagery and execution provoked similar cerebral responses in novel and learned conditions however; the learned condition caused activation in a different area of the brain that was associated with dissociation (i.e., automaticity).
Implication. Imagery provokes similar brain activity as physical execution in novel and learned tasks. As learning occurs, the area of the brain used changes to one that is allied with automatic performance (i.e., a learned performance).
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