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Effect of mental imagery on realizing affordances

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Using a reaction time experiment, we examined whether imagining a response would lead to an increase in the frequency of its execution. During a pre-test and a post-test, participants had to respond as quickly as possible with either their left or their right hand, as they preferred, to the illumination of one of 17 target positions arrayed in front of them in a semicircle. Between these two phases, participants performed a practice condition. Each of 40 right-handed participants was assigned to one of four groups that differed in their practice condition: One group made only dominant-hand responses to all target locations, two imagery groups imagined dominant hand responses to all target locations, and the last group received a no-practice, control task. One imagery group received instructions emphasizing that imagery has a strong effect; the second group received instructions suggesting that imagery was not effective. The results showed an increased incidence of the practised response for both imagery groups during the post-test. No effect was found for the physical performance group and the control group. The change in performance for the imagery groups was not accompanied by a change in reaction time. The results are discussed in terms of imagining the realization of action possibilities and from a neuropsychological point of view.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: August 1, 2002


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