Adolescent development of motor imagery in a visually guided pointing task

Consciousness and Cognition 16 (4):886-896 (2007)
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The development of action representation during adolescence was investigated using a visually guided pointing motor task to test motor imagery. Forty adolescents and 33 adults were instructed to both execute and imagine hand movements from a starting point to a target of varying size. Reaction time was measured for both Execution and Imagery conditions. There is typically a close association between time taken to execute and image actions in adults because action execution and action simulation rely on overlapping neural circuitry. Further, representations of actions are governed by the same speed-accuracy trade-off as real actions, as expressed by Fitts’ Law. In the current study, performance on the VGPT in both adolescents and adults conformed to Fitts’ Law in E and I conditions. However, the strength of association between E and I significantly increased with age, reflecting a refinement in action representation between adolescence and adulthood



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