Event Abstract

Does motor imagery ability predict reaching correction efficiency? A test of recent models of human motor control.

  • 1 Deakin University, School of Psychology, Australia
  • 2 Oxford Brookes University, Department of Psychology, United Kingdom
  • 3 Victoria University, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living & School of Sport and Exercise Science, Australia

Neuro-computational models of reaching indicate that the efficient correction of movement mid-flight (viz online control) depends on one’s ability to generate an accurate internal (neural) representation of an impending movement and monitor it throughout (Izawa & Shadmehr, 2011; Wolpert, Diedrichsen, & Flanagan, 2011). Despite theoretical consensus and a strong body of indirect evidence, surprisingly this important motor principle is yet to be explored empirically. Accordingly, we investigated the relationship between healthy young adults’ performance on a mental hand rotation task and their capacity to correct their reaching trajectory following unexpected target perturbation on the double-step reaching task (DSRT). As expected, after controlling for the effect of general reaching speed on one’s ability to correct their movement in-flight, hierarchical regression demonstrated that imagery ability was a significant predictor of hand correction speed; that is, faster and more accurate mental hand rotation was associated with faster corrections to reaching following lateral target displacement at movement onset. Interpreted in the context of neuro-computational modelling, we argue that these findings provide preliminary support for the view that a link exists between one’s ability to represent movement mentally and correct movement online efficiently. Importantly, to our knowledge, this research is the first empirical study to provide supportive evidence for this key motor principle.


Izawa, J., & Shadmehr, R. (2011). Learning from sensory and reward prediction errors during motor adaptation. Computational Biology, 7, e1002012.
Wolpert, D. M., Diedrichsen, J., & Flanagan, J. (2011). Principles of sensorimotor learning. Nature Reviews: Neuroscience, 12, 739-751.

Keywords: Motor Imagery, online control, predictive modelling, double-step reaching task, Posterior parietal cortex

Conference: ACNS-2012 Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 29 Nov - 2 Dec, 2012.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: Motor

Citation: Hyde C, Wilmut K, Fuelscher I and Williams J (2012). Does motor imagery ability predict reaching correction efficiency? A test of recent models of human motor control.. Conference Abstract: ACNS-2012 Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Conference. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2012.208.00047

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Received: 25 Oct 2012; Published Online: 07 Nov 2012.

* Correspondence: Dr. Christian Hyde, Deakin University, School of Psychology, Melbourne, Victoria, 3125, Australia, c.hyde@deakin.edu.au