Differentiating visual and kinesthetic imagery in mental practice

Yves-André Féry
Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 2003, 57 (1): 1-10
Through two experiments, the study sought to emphasize the usefulness of the visual and kinesthetic imagery in mental practice. In Experiment 1, it was hypothesized that when the task to be learned through mental practice necessitates the reproduction of a form by drawing, the visual image, which provides a wide span of apprehension, is more suitable than the kinesthetic image. On the other hand, the kinesthetic image that supplies inputs from the muscles' positions and movements should be more appropriate for the acquisition of the duration of the drawing. In Experiment 2, it was hypothesized that the task, transformed into a motor task necessitating minute coordination of the two hands, would benefit more from kinesthetic imagery. To have optimal control over what was actually experienced during mental practice, the participants' imagery skills were measured. The participants also benefited from prior imagery training. The results demonstrate that when using mental practice to initially acquire a task, visual imagery is better for tasks that emphasize form while kinesthetic imagery is better for those tasks that emphasize timing or minute coordination of the two hands.

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