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Journal Article


Kalicinski M, Raab M. Aging Clin. Exp. Res. 2013; 26(4): 387-393.


Institute of Psychology, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933, Cologne, Germany,


(Copyright © 2013, Editrice Kurtis)






BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Mental training has the potential to enhance motor performance and behavior in older adults. Yet several studies have revealed age-related alteration of motor imagery (MI) ability, suggesting that mental training is not applicable for older adults. The purpose of the present study was to estimate MI performance in older adults, taking into account task requirements. METHODS: MI performance of 20 older (mean age 70.75 ± 3.68 years) and 22 younger (mean age 24.31 ± 1.25 years) adults was estimated with the mental chronometry paradigm from the first-person perspective. Participants completed four walking tasks with different requirements, walking (A) in a straight line; (B) with two changes of direction; (C) on uneven ground; and (D) while additionally flipping switches. Path length and width were constant across tasks. MI ability was also measured with the Controllability of Motor Imagery Test, in which body parts have to be controlled and manipulated mentally. In addition, participants reported self-rated clarity of their MI in both tests after each trial. RESULTS: Our data suggest no generalized alteration in MI of walking with different task requirements among older adults. A significant Age × Condition × Task interaction emerged, but this result could not be attributed to a specific task requirement in post-hoc tests. For controllability of MI, older adults showed alterations in imagining body postures. These results showed dissociation with the self-rated clarity in both tests. CONCLUSION: The present findings suggest that older adults show no age-related alterations in MI for familiar movements. Mental Training of familiar movements could therefore be feasible for older adults and enables promising intervention strategies.

Language: en


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