Special Issue "Translational Aspects of Motor Imagery"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Massimiliano Conson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratory of Developmental Neuropsychology, Department of Psychology, University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, 81100 Caserta, Italy
Interests: spatial cognition, mental imagery and motor simulation in children and adults with typical and atypical development; neuropsychology of anxiety and hypervigilance to threat
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Tasha Stanton
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
IIMPACT in Health, Allied Health and Human Performance, The University of South Australia, Adelaide SA 5001, Australia
Interests: (i) motor imagery, investigated in typical individuals and in people with pain; (ii) graded motor imagery treatment in pain; (iii) multisensory integration/modulation of pain; (iv) virtual/mediated reality; (v) pain neuroscience education treatment; (vi) clinical trials

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Motor imagery tasks assess persons’ ability to mentally activate motor representations in the absence of actual body actions. Training individuals to mentally simulate own limb movements can facilitate physical execution of the very same movements. For this reason, motor imagery, especially when combined with physical practice, can enhance motor performance in athletes as well as in people with different neurological conditions. In particular, in recent years, converging evidence has been demonstrating the effectiveness of motor-imagery-based rehabilitative programmes in rehabilitating people with spinal cord injury, children with developmental coordination disorder, or people with complex pain regional syndrome or low back pain. Thus, further advancing knowledge about the mechanisms underlying motor imagery performance and training could represent a useful way to develop personalized and increasingly effective programmes for training of professional athletes and treating patients with sensorimotor disorders.

Dr.  Massimiliano Conson
Dr. Tasha Stanton
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • explicit motor imagery
  • implicit motor imagery
  • mental training
  • left/right laterality judgment
  • mental rotation
  • rehabilitation

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Cognitive Training Improves Disconnected Limbs’ Mental Representation and Peripersonal Space after Spinal Cord Injury
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9589; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18189589 - 12 Sep 2021
Viewed by 541
Abstract
Paraplegia following spinal cord injury (SCI) affects the mental representation and peripersonal space of the paralysed body parts (i.e., lower limbs). Physical rehabilitation programs can improve these aspects, but the benefits are mostly partial and short-lasting. These limits could be due to the [...] Read more.
Paraplegia following spinal cord injury (SCI) affects the mental representation and peripersonal space of the paralysed body parts (i.e., lower limbs). Physical rehabilitation programs can improve these aspects, but the benefits are mostly partial and short-lasting. These limits could be due to the absence of trainings focused on SCI-induced cognitive deficits combined with traditional physical rehabilitation. To test this hypothesis, we assessed in 15 SCI-individuals the effects of adding cognitive recovery protocols (motor imagery–MI) to standard physical rehabilitation programs (Motor + MI training) on mental body representations and space representations, with respect to physical rehabilitation alone (control training). Each training comprised at least eight sessions administered over two weeks. The status of participants’ mental body representation and peripersonal space was assessed at three time points: before the training (T0), after the training (T1), and in a follow-up assessment one month later (T2). The Motor + MI training induced short-term recovery of peripersonal space that however did not persist at T2. Body representation showed a slower neuroplastic recovery at T2, without differences between Motor and the Motor + MI. These results show that body and space representations are plastic after lesions, and open new rehabilitation perspectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translational Aspects of Motor Imagery)
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Article
The Role of Motor Imagery in Predicting Motor Skills in Young Male Soccer Players
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6316; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18126316 - 10 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1199
Abstract
The study aimed to find out whether the imagery ability within the two subcomponents of motor imagery (visual and kinesthetic) allows predicting the results in simple response time task and eye–hand coordination task in a group of young male soccer players (9–15 years [...] Read more.
The study aimed to find out whether the imagery ability within the two subcomponents of motor imagery (visual and kinesthetic) allows predicting the results in simple response time task and eye–hand coordination task in a group of young male soccer players (9–15 years old). Non-specific simple response time and eye–hand coordination play a key role in predicting specific sports performance level. Participants performed Reaction Time Task, Eye–Hand Coordination Task, and completed Motor Imagery Questionnaire–Revised. Data were submitted to the structural equations analysis based on the maximum likelihood method in order to estimate a structural model of relationship between variables. Results indicate visual rather than kinesthetic motor imagery is associated with non-specific motor skills. Higher scores on the visual motor imagery scale were observed to correlate with faster reaction times and better coordination in the study group. This supports the idea that during learning a new perceptual-motor-task the visual control is required. Results provide the evidence for the specific role of the third-person perspective imagery in young athletes playing soccer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translational Aspects of Motor Imagery)
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Article
Recognizing Your Hand and That of Your Romantic Partner
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 8256; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17218256 - 09 Nov 2020
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Abstract
Although the hand is an important organ in interpersonal interactions, focusing on this body part explicitly is less common in daily life compared with the face. We investigated (i) whether a person’s recognition of their own hand is different from their recognition of [...] Read more.
Although the hand is an important organ in interpersonal interactions, focusing on this body part explicitly is less common in daily life compared with the face. We investigated (i) whether a person’s recognition of their own hand is different from their recognition of another person’s hand (i.e., self hand vs. other’s hand) and (ii) whether a close social relationship affects hand recognition (i.e., a partner’s hand vs. an unknown person’s hand). For this aim, we ran an experiment in which participants took part in one of two discrimination tasks: (i) a self–others discrimination task or (ii) a partner/unknown opposite-sex person discrimination task. In these tasks, participants were presented with a hand image and asked to select one of two responses, self (partner) or other (unknown persons), as quickly and accurately as possible. We manipulated hand ownership (self (partner)/other(unknown person)), hand image laterality (right/left), and visual perspective of hand image (upright/upside-down). A main effect of hand ownership in both tasks (i.e., self vs. other and partner vs. unknown person) was found, indicating longer reaction times for self and partner images. The results suggest that close social relationships modulate hand recognition—namely, “self-expansion” to a romantic partner could occur at explicit visual hand recognition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translational Aspects of Motor Imagery)
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Article
Motor Imagery Performance and Tactile Spatial Acuity: Are They Altered in People with Frozen Shoulder?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(20), 7464; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17207464 - 14 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1003
Abstract
Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a severe chronic pain condition that is not well understood and current treatment is suboptimal. In several other chronic pain conditions motor imagery and tactile acuity deficits are present, which are thought to represent associated neuroplastic changes. The [...] Read more.
Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a severe chronic pain condition that is not well understood and current treatment is suboptimal. In several other chronic pain conditions motor imagery and tactile acuity deficits are present, which are thought to represent associated neuroplastic changes. The aims of this study were to determine if motor imagery performance assessed by the left/right judgement task, and tactile acuity assessed by two-point discrimination, are altered in people with unilateral frozen shoulder. In this cross-sectional, prospective study eighteen adults diagnosed with frozen shoulder in a physiotherapy clinic setting completed a left/right judgement task, response times (RT) and accuracy for the left/right judgement task were determined. Next, tactile acuity over both shoulders was assessed with a novel, force-standardised two-point discrimination test. Results corresponding to the affected side were compared to the pain free shoulder; Left/right judgement task: mean RT (SD) corresponding to the affected shoulder was significantly slower than RT for the healthy shoulder (p = 0.031). There was no side-to-side difference in accuracy (p > 0.05). Neither RT nor accuracy was related to pain/disability scores or duration of symptoms (p > 0.05). Two-point discrimination: mean two-point discrimination threshold of the affected shoulder was significantly larger than the contralateral healthy shoulder (p < 0.001). Two-point discrimination threshold was not related to pain/disability scores or pain duration (p > 0.05); One explanation for these findings is altered sensorimotor processing and/or disrupted sensorimotor cortex representations of the affected shoulder. A case then exists for the use of treatments aimed at reversing these changes, training the brain to reduce chronic shoulder pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translational Aspects of Motor Imagery)
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Article
Implicit Motor Imagery and the Lateral Occipitotemporal Cortex: Hints for Tailoring Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5851; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17165851 - 12 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1028
Abstract
Background: Recent evidence has converged in showing that the lateral occipitotemporal cortex is over-recruited during implicit motor imagery in elderly and in patients with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. These data suggest that when automatically imaging movements, individuals exploit neural resources in [...] Read more.
Background: Recent evidence has converged in showing that the lateral occipitotemporal cortex is over-recruited during implicit motor imagery in elderly and in patients with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. These data suggest that when automatically imaging movements, individuals exploit neural resources in the visual areas to compensate for the decline in activating motor representations. Thus, the occipitotemporal cortex could represent a cortical target of non-invasive brain stimulation combined with cognitive training to enhance motor imagery performance. Here, we aimed at shedding light on the role of the left and right lateral occipitotemporal cortex in implicit motor imagery. Methods: We applied online, high-frequency, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the left and right lateral occipitotemporal cortex while healthy right-handers judged the laterality of hand images. Results: With respect to the sham condition, left hemisphere stimulation specifically reduced accuracy in judging the laterality of right-hand images. Instead, the hallmark of motor simulation, i.e., the biomechanical effect, was never influenced by rTMS. Conclusions: The lateral occipitotemporal cortex seems to be involved in mental representation of the dominant hand, at least in right-handers, but not in reactivating sensorimotor information during simulation. These findings provide useful hints for developing combined brain stimulation and behavioural trainings to improve motor imagery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translational Aspects of Motor Imagery)
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Review

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Review
Effectiveness of Motor Imagery on Motor Recovery in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 498; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18020498 - 09 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1355
Abstract
The effects of motor imagery (MI) on functional recovery of patients with neurological pathologies, such as stroke, has been recently proven. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of MI on motor recovery and quality of life (QOL) in patients [...] Read more.
The effects of motor imagery (MI) on functional recovery of patients with neurological pathologies, such as stroke, has been recently proven. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of MI on motor recovery and quality of life (QOL) in patients with multiple sclerosis (pwMS). A search was carried out in the following scientific databases: PubMed, CINAHL, PEDro, Scopus, Cochrane and Web of Science, up to November 2020. The grey literature and reference lists of potentially relevant articles were also searched. The Checklist for Measuring Quality and The Cochrane collaboration’s tool were used to assess the methodological quality and risk of bias of the studies. Five studies were included in the systematic review. Findings showed that pwMS using MI had significant improvements in walking speed and distance, fatigue and QOL. In addition, several benefits were also found in dynamic balance and perceived walking ability. Although the evidence is limited, rehabilitation using MI with the application of musical and verbal guides (compared to non-intervention or other interventions), can produce benefits on gait, fatigue and QOL in pwMS with a low score in the Expanded Disability Status Scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translational Aspects of Motor Imagery)
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Other

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Systematic Review
Effect of Motor Imagery Training on Motor Learning in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9467; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18189467 - 08 Sep 2021
Viewed by 546
Abstract
Background: There is an urgent need to systematically analyze the growing body of literature on the effect of motor imagery (MI) training in children and adolescents. Methods: Seven databases and clinicaltrials.gov were searched. Two reviewers independently screened references and full texts, [...] Read more.
Background: There is an urgent need to systematically analyze the growing body of literature on the effect of motor imagery (MI) training in children and adolescents. Methods: Seven databases and clinicaltrials.gov were searched. Two reviewers independently screened references and full texts, and extracted data (studies’ methodology, MI elements, temporal parameters). Two studies were meta-analyzed providing the standard mean difference (SDM). Selected studies were evaluated with the risk of bias (RoB) and GRADE tools. Results: A total of 7238 references were retrieved. The sample size of the 22 included studies, published between 1995 and 2021, ranged from 18 to 136 participants, totaling 934 (nine to 18 years). Studies included healthy pupils, mentally retarded adolescents, children with motor coordination difficulties or with mild mental disabilities. The motor learning tasks focused on upper, lower and whole body movements. SMDs for the primary outcome of pooled studies varied between 0.83 to 1.87 (95% CI, I2, T2 varied 0.33–3.10; p = 0.001; 0–74%; 0–0.59). RoB varied between some concerns and high risk. GRADE rating was low. Conclusions: MI combined with physical practice (PP) might have a high potential for healthy and impaired children and adolescents. However, important reporting recommendations (PETTLEP, TIDieR, CONSORT) should be followed. The systematic review was registered with PROSPERO: CRD42021237361. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Translational Aspects of Motor Imagery)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Effects of motor imagery on motor function in children: A systematic review

Authors: Frank Behrendt 1,2, Zorica Suica 1, Szabina Gäumann 1, Corina Schuster-Amft 1,2,3

Affiliation: 1 Research Department, Reha Rheinfelden, Switzerland; 2 Department of Department of Engineering and Information Technology, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland; 3 Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, University of Basel, Switzerland

 

Title: How do athletes and dancers use motor imagery in performance and injury rehabilitation? A scoping review
Authors: Adriano Soley and Ebonie Rio

 

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