Event Abstract

Does the ability to represent movement at a neural level influence movement planning?

  • 1 Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom
  • 2 Deakin University, Australia
  • 3 Victoria University, Australia
  • 4 Victoria University, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living and School of Sport and Exercise Science, Australia

Motor planning refers to the ability to consider the goal of an upcoming action and select an appropriate movement plan, taking into account necessary internal and external variables. Research suggests this process requires individuals to perform an internal movement simulation (or motor imagery; Johnson, 2000). That is, subconsciously, an individual simulates the movement plan to ensure it achieves the required goal. Increasingly, it has been suggested that motor planning deficits in clinical groups (e.g. hemiplegia) stem from a reduced ability to perform internal movement simulations (e.g. Craje et al., 2010). However, research has so far failed to directly assess the relationship between motor planning and imagery abilities. This was the goal of this study. A sample of 35 healthy young adults participated. Motor planning was assessed using an end-state comfort task requiring participants to grasp and turn an octagon. The movement sequences required participants to plan their grasp ahead of time to ensure end-state comfort. Motor imagery was assessed using the hand rotation task, requiring participants to imagine their hand in various degrees of rotation to allow them to determine the handedness of presented stimuli. Correlations between the two measures were in the range of .3-.4 and linear regression indicated that motor imagery ability was a significant predictor of performance on the planning task, though effects were small. We consider the implications of these findings, which although moderate, provide positive support to current theory using a typically developing sample, and discuss other factors that may further contribute to planning ability.


Crajé, C., M. van Elk, et al. (2010). "Compromised motor planning and motor imagery in right hemiparetic cerebral palsy." Research in Developmental Disabilities 31: 1313-1322.

Johnson, S. H. (2000). "Thinking ahead: the case for motor imagery in prospective judgements of prehension." Cognition 74: 33-70.

Keywords: Motor planning, Motor Imagery, motor control theory, end-state comfort effect, hand rotation

Conference: ACNS-2012 Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 29 Nov - 2 Dec, 2012.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: Motor

Citation: Wilmut K, Hyde C, Fuelscher I and Williams J (2012). Does the ability to represent movement at a neural level influence movement planning?. Conference Abstract: ACNS-2012 Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Conference. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2012.208.00162

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Received: 13 Oct 2012; Published Online: 17 Nov 2012.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jacqueline Williams, Victoria University, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living and School of Sport and Exercise Science, Melbourne, Australia, jacqueline.williams@vu.edu.au