- How Kinesthetic Motor Imagery works: A predictive-processing theory of visualization in sports and motor expertise
- Journal of Physiology
- Volume | Issue number
- 109 | 1-3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Kinesthetic Motor Imagery (KMI) is an important technique to acquire and refine motor skills. KMI is widely used by professional athletes as an effective way to improve motor performance without overt motor output. Despite this obvious relevance, the functional mechanisms and neural circuits involved in KMI in sports are still poorly understood. In the present article, which aims at bridging the sport sciences and cognitive neurophysiology literatures, we give a brief overview of relevant research in the field of KMI. Furthermore, we develop a theoretical account that relates KMI to predictive motor control theories assuming that it is based on internal activation of anticipatory images of action effects. This mechanism allows improving motor performance solely based on internal emulation of action. In accordance with previous literature, we propose that this emulation mechanism is implemented in brain regions that partially overlap with brain areas involved in overt motor performance including the posterior parietal cortex, the cerebellum, the basal ganglia and the premotor cortex. Finally, we outline one way to test the heuristic value of our theoretical framework for KMI; we suggest that experience with motor performance improves the ability to correctly infer the goals of others, in particular in penalty blocking in soccer.
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