Male college students (N= 39) learned two novel perceptual motor tasks differing in demand across a cognitive-motor continuum, under conditions of physical practice (PP), mental practice (MP), or no practice (NP). On each task, the PP group was given 12 actual trials; the MP group received one actual, nine mental, then two actual trials; and the NP group received one actual trial, 10 minutes rest, then two actual trials. Results showed no difference in learning between MP and NP groups on the predominantly motor task, with the PP group significantly superior to both. On the predominantly cognitive task, however, the MP group performed as well as the PP group, and both were significantly superior to the NP group. Two additional questions concerning the influences of imaging ability and relative frequency of mental practice rendered equivocal results.
Appreciation is extended to Greg Nixon for assistance in experimental design and data collection. Reprint requests should be sent to E. Dean Ryan, Department of Physical Education, University of California - Davis, Davis, CA 95616.