Motor imagery and aging.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Mot Behav, Volume 45, Issue 1, p.21-8 (2013)


Afferent Pathways, Aging, Brain Mapping, Efferent Pathways, Humans, Imagination, Movement


<p>Motor imagery (MI) is the mental simulation of an action without its actual execution. It has been successfully used through mental practice--the repetition of imagined movements--to optimize motor function either in sport or rehabilitation settings. Healthy elderly individuals facing age-related impairments in motor function could also benefit from this method of training-retraining. The authors review studies that have investigated MI in physically and mentally healthy adults aged 55 years and older. First, they provide an overview of the psychophysical data on MI in the elderly, which show no changes with aging in the ability to imagine simple-usual movements but reveal some age-related alterations in the mental simulation of difficult-unusual movements. Second, they present emerging neuroimaging and neurostimulation data revealing that the sensorimotor system is engaged during MI in older adults. Finally, the authors emphasize the potential of using mental practice as a safe and easy way to help preserving/improving motor function in the elderly and provide some recommendations for future research in this direction.</p>

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