Editorial: Mental practice: Clinical and experimental research in imagery and action observation


Ietswaart M, Butler A, Jackson PL & Edwards MG (2015) Editorial: Mental practice: Clinical and experimental research in imagery and action observation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, Art. No.: 573.

First paragraph: This editorial accompanies 18 articles as part of aFrontiersresearch topic. The aim of this research topic was to clarify the underlying mechanisms involved in mental practice of action, bringing together evidence from a range of disciplines including cognitive neuroscience, experimental neuropsychology, sport and movement science, clinical neuropsychology and clinical neurology. The need to clarify the underlying mechanisms of mental practice is a pressing one. Mental practice of action has been explored in sport psychology for several decades, with the aim to use mental practice to improve sport performance. However, following the discovery of the mirror neuron system (see for example,Rizzolatti and Craighero, 2004), the perspective of mental practice has changed to a rationale based on neuroscience and to research focussed on understanding the neural processes of mental practice. Evidence that the brain simulates action has resulted in a common understanding of “functional equivalence” (Jeannerod, 1994): the idea that thementalrepresentation of an action or percept in the person's mind is the neural “equivalent” to thephysicalaction oractualpercept. This ability to mentally represent action using the motor system allows for action simulation, providing conscious mental rehearsal of movement (imagery), but also allows for a common percept when observing the movements of others. Finally, in recent years, the disciplines of clinical neuropsychology and neurology have begun to use mental rehearsal of action, ormental practice, to produce improvements normally attributed to practicing actual movements.

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: Volume 9

Publication date31/10/2015
Publication date online15/10/2015
Date accepted by journal01/10/2015
PublisherFrontiers Media