Executive functions in motor imagery : support for the motor-cognitive model over the functional equivalence model. / Glover, Scott; Bibby, Elys; Tuomi, Elsa.

In: Experimental Brain Research, 16.03.2020, p. 1-14.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



The motor-cognitive model holds that motor imagery relies on executive resources to a much greater extent than do overt actions. According to this view, engaging executive resources with an interference task during motor imagery or overt actions will lead to a greater lengthening of the time required to imagine a movement than to execute it physically. This model is in contrast to a currently popular view, the functional equivalence model, which holds that motor imagery and overt action use identical mental processes, and thus should be equally affected by task manipulations. The two competing frameworks were tested in three experiments that varied the amount and type of executive resources needed to perform an interference task concurrent with either an overt or imagined version of a grasping and placing action. In Experiment 1, performing a concurrent calculation task led to a greater lengthening of the time required to execute motor imagery than overt action relative to a control condition involving no interference task. Further, an increase in the number of responses used to index performance affected the timing of motor imagery but not overt actions. In Experiment 2, a low-load repetition task interfered with the timing of motor imagery, but less so than a high load calculation task; both tasks had much smaller effects on overt actions. In Experiment 3, a word generation task also interfered with motor imagery much more than with overt actions. The results
of these experiments provide broad support for the motor-cognitive model over the functional equivalence model in showing that interfering with executive functions had a much greater impact on the timing of motor imagery than on overt actions. The possible roles of different executive processes in motor imagery are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2020
This open access research output is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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