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What Is Imagery?

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Dec 31, 2004

Many fitness instructors use imagery techniques that draw on personal experiences of athletic events or nature outings to enhance indoor cycling classes or lead relaxation during a cooldown. More and more research supports the benefits of using imagery to achieve specific objectives like improved performance or deep relaxation. To create a standard definition across scientific disciplines for more consistent research, investigators at Florida International University School of Nursing in Miami reviewed the concept of imagery and developed a definition, published in the journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine (2004; 20 [2], 4–10).

Study authors found that mental imagery is often referred to as visualization. Typical characteristics of imagery include mental, physical, emotional, dynamic, process-related and quasirealistic references. Authors offered the following working definition for research going forward: “Imagery, a mental function, is a lived experience that is a dynamic, quasireal, psychophysiological process.” The researchers would like this definition to provide a foundation for further research.

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