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Douglas P. Jowdy and Dorothy V. Harris

The purpose of the present investigation was to determine if the magnitude of muscular activity concomitant with mental imagery is a function of motor skill level. Male undergraduates (N=38) between 18 and 24 years of age were assigned to either a high skilled (n=23) or low skilled (n = 15) group of jugglers. All subjects completed the Movement Imagery Questionnaire (MIQ) (Hall & Pongrac, 1983) and imagined themselves juggling for eight 15-second trials while the amplitude of muscular activity was measured by surface electromyography. There was a significant increase in muscular activity during mental imagery across all subjects (p<.001), but the difference between the high and low skilled groups was not significant. This lack of difference may suggest that the differential effects of imagery based upon skill level are not due to the neuromuscular activation during imagery.

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Jennifer Cumming, Tom Olphin and Michelle Law

The aim of the present study was to examine self-reported psychological states and physiological responses (heart rate) experienced during different motivational general imagery scenarios. Forty competitive athletes wore a standard heart rate monitor and imaged five scripts (mastery, coping, anxiety, psyching up, and relaxation). Following each script, they reported their state anxiety and self-confidence. A significant increase in heart rate from baseline to imagery was found for the anxiety, psyching-up, and coping imagery scripts. Furthermore, the intensity of cognitive and somatic anxiety was greater and perceived as being more debilitative following the anxiety imagery script. The findings support Lang’s (1977, 1979) proposal that images containing response propositions will produce a physiological response (i.e., increase heart rate). Moreover, coping imagery enabled the athletes to simultaneously experience elevated levels of anxiety intensity and thoughts and feelings they perceived as helpful.

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Deborah L. Feltz and Camala A. Riessinger

An experiment was conducted to investigate the relative merits of in vivo emotive imagery and performance feedback in enhancing self-efficacy beliefs and performance on a competitive muscular endurance task. College males (n=60) and females (n=60) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: mastery imagery plus feedback, feedback alone, or control condition. Subjects in the imagery-plus-feedback condition were told that one of the pair (always the subject) would receive imagery exposure while the other (always the confederate) would wait outside. Subjects performed two trials against the confederate, who always won by 10 seconds. A Group x Trials interaction for self-efficacy revealed a significant increase for the imagery group after brief exposure. Also, imagery subjects had significantly higher efficacy scores than feedback alone or control subjects after each performance trial. A Group x Trials interaction for performance indicated that imagery subjects initially had significantly longer performance times than did feedback alone or control subjects. Performance feedback alone did not influence efficacy beliefs or performance.

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Sheng Li, Jennifer A. Stevens, Derek G. Kamper and William Z. Rymer

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of motor imagery on the premotor time (PMT). Twelve healthy adults performed reaction time movements in response to external visual signals at rest, when holding an object (muscle activation), or performing different background imagined movements (motor imagery). When compared to rest, muscle activation reduced the PMT; imagined finger extension of the right hand and imagined finger flexion of the left hand elongated the PMT; imagined finger flexion of the right hand had no effect on the PMT. This movement-specific effect is interpreted as the sum of the excitatory effect caused by enhanced corticospinal excitability specifically for the primary mover of the imagined movement and an overall inhibition associated with increased task complexity during motor imagery. Our results clearly demonstrate that motor imagery has movement-specific effects on the PMT.

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Geraldine H. Van Gym, Howard A. Wenger and Catherine A. Gaul

This study investigated the effect of engaging in imagery in conjunction with nonspecific training on the transfer of the training to performance. Forty subjects were pretested on a Wingate cycle ergometer test for peak power and a 40-m sprint. Subjects were assigned to one of four groups: imagery training (IT), power training (PT), imagery and power training (DPT), and control (C). Following a 6-week training period, all subjects were retested. Although a MANOVA revealed no significant difference between groups on any variable, the groups-by-time interaction was significant. Therefore an analysis of difference scores on both tests was performed. This analysis revealed that although both the IPT and the PT group significantly improved in peak power, only the IPT group improved significantly on the sprint. The results indicate that imagery coupled with nonspecific training contributes to the enhancement of subsequent performance significantly better than does nonspecific training alone.

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Sarah E. Williams, Jennifer Cumming and George M. Balanos

The present study investigated whether imagery could manipulate athletes’ appraisal of stress-evoking situations (i.e., challenge or threat) and whether psychological and cardiovascular responses and interpretations varied according to cognitive appraisal of three imagery scripts: challenge, neutral, and threat. Twenty athletes (M age = 20.85; SD = 1.76; 10 female, 10 male) imaged each script while heart rate, stroke volume, and cardiac output were obtained using Doppler echocardiography. State anxiety and self-confidence were assessed following each script using the Immediate Anxiety Measures Scale. During the imagery, a significant increase in heart rate, stroke volume, and cardiac output occurred for the challenge and threat scripts (p < .05). Although there were no differences in physiological response intensities for both stress-evoking scripts, these responses, along with anxiety symptoms, were interpreted as facilitative during the challenge script and debilitative during the threat script. Results support using imagery to facilitate adaptive stress appraisal.

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Sarah E. Williams, Sam J. Cooley and Jennifer Cumming

This study aimed to test Lang’s bioinformational theory by comparing the effects of layered stimulus and response training (LSRT) with imagery practice on improvements in imagery ability and performance of a motor skill (golf putting) in 24 novices (age, M = 20.13 years; SD = 1.65; 12 female) low in imagery ability. Participants were randomly assigned to a LSRT (introducing stimulus and response propositions to an image in a layered approach), motor imagery (MI) practice, or visual imagery (VI) practice group. Following baseline measures of MI ability and golf putting performance, the LSRT and MI practice groups imaged successfully performing the golf putting task 5 times each day for 4 days whereas the VI practice group imaged the ball rolling into the hole. Only the LSRT group experienced an improvement in kinesthetic MI ability, MI ability of more complex skills, and actual golf putting performance. Results support bioinformational theory by demonstrating that LSRT can facilitate visual and kinesthetic MI ability and reiterate the importance of imagery ability to ensure MI is an effective prime for movement execution.

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Robert S. Weinberg, Thomas G. Seabourne and Allen Jackson

The present investigation attempted to determine whether imagery combined with relaxation (VMBR) is more effective in facilitating karate performance than either imagery or relaxation alone. Each subject (N = 32) was randomly assigned to either a VMBR, relaxation, imagery, or attention-placebo control condition in a one-way design. During the first day of the karate class (which met twice a week), each group was individually provided with an explanation of how to practice their assigned strategy at home. Trait anxiety tests were administered at the beginning and the end of the 6-week test period. In addition, performance tests were administered at the end of the testing period along with precompetitive state anxiety. Trait anxiety results indicated that all subjects displayed a reduction in trait anxiety over the course of the testing period. State anxiety results indicated that the VMBR and relaxation groups exhibited lower levels of state anxiety than the imagery and attention-control groups. Performance was broken down into three subareas which consisted of skill, combinations, and sparring (actual competition). Results only showed an effect for sparring, with VMBR group exhibiting better performance than all other groups.

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Gail Kendall, Dennis Hrycaiko, Garry L. Martin and Tom Kendall

This study investigated the effects of an imagery rehearsal, relaxation, and self-talk package on the performance of a specific defensive basketball skill during competition. Subjects were four female intercollegiate basketball players. A single-subject multiple-baseline-across-individuals design was employed to evaluate the intervention package. The intervention was clearly effective in enhancing a basketball skill during games, and social validity measures were very positive. The need for further research in this area is discussed.

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Lynn Dale Housner

Subjects (N = 29) classified as high or low visual imagers (highs and lows, respectively) viewed and reproduced six filmed examples of motoric stimuli constructed by combining a variety of leg, trunk, arm, and head movements. The motor stimuli represented three levels of complexity (4, 7, and 10 components) and two levels of orientation (model facing subject or facing away). Highs and lows were randomly assigned to one of two experimental groups: (a) one viewing of the stimuli, or (b) two viewings of the stimuli. The experimental design was a 2×2×2× 3 (imagery ability x viewings X orientation x complexity) factorial with repeated measures on the third and fourth factors. Analysis of the data revealed significant main effects for imagery ability, F(l,25) = 6.41, p < .018, where highs reproduced the stimuli with less error than lows, and viewings, F(l,25) = 25.58, p < .001, where two viewings resulted in less recall error than one viewing. Also, the orientation by complexity interaction was found to be significant, F(2,50) = 25.51, p < .001, and indicated that recall accuracy was best when the model was facing away, but only for movement sequences of seven components. The findings suggest that visual imagery may play a role in the recall of modeled motoric stimuli.