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Mental Imagery Enhances Motor Skills

While use of mental imagery has been widely promoted as an effective complement to physical training, the scientific evidence to confirm that visualization enhances motor skills performance is only now emerging. Recent studies comparing motor skill acquisition by physical practice alone, by mental practice and by a combination of both have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine how these methods activate the brain. The studies have shown that mental imagery and motor skill performance produce activation in overlapping, but not identical, areas of the brain.

According to a study and comment published in Frontiers in Neuroscience (2009;
3 [1], 5–6; and 2008; 2 [5], 1–7), combined motor and mental training recruits both
motor and visual systems, enhancing connections between different brain regions and thus leading to improvements in learning. Researchers noted that these findings could
be valuable both for athletes who want to improve performance and for stroke survivors and other patients with neurodegenerative
issues who are interested in rehabilitation.



Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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