Imaging motor imagery: Methodological issues related to expertise

John Milton, Steven L. Small, Ana Solodkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Mental imagery (MI) is the mental rehearsal of movements without overt execution. Brain imaging techniques have made it possible to identify the brain regions that are activated during MI and, for voluntary motor tasks involving hand and finger movements, to make direct comparison with those areas activated during actual movement. However, the fact that brain activation differs for different types of imagery (visual or kinetic) and depends on the skill level of the individual (e.g., novice or elite athlete) raises a number of important methodological issues for the design of brain imaging protocols to study MI. These include instructing the subject concerning the type of imagery to use, objective measurement of skill level, the design of motor tasks sufficiently difficult to produce a range of skill levels, the effect of different environments on skill level (including the imaging device), and so on. It is suggested that MI is more about the neurobiology of the development of motor skills that have already been learned, but not perfected, than it is about learning motor skills de novo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-341
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Expertise
  • Functional brain imaging
  • Kinetic imagery
  • Motor imagery
  • Motor planning
  • Motor skill
  • Motor tasks
  • Visual imagery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Imaging motor imagery: Methodological issues related to expertise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this