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04-05-2020 | Original Article

Inhibitory mechanisms in motor imagery: disentangling different forms of inhibition using action mode switching

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research
Auteurs:
Victoria K. E. Bart, Iring Koch, Martina Rieger
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00426-020-01327-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Abstract

In motor imagery, probably several inhibitory mechanisms prevent actual movements: global inhibition, effector-specific inhibition, and inhibition retrieved during target processing. We investigated factors that may influence those mechanisms. In an action mode switching paradigm, participants imagined and executed movements from home buttons to target buttons. We analysed sequential effects. Activation (due to execution) or inhibition (due to imagination) in the previous trial should affect performance in the subsequent trial, enabling conclusions about inhibitory mechanisms in motor imagery. In Experiment 1, evidence for global and effector-specific inhibition was observed. Evidence for inhibition retrieved during target processing was inconclusive. Data patterns were similar when start and end of the imagined movements were indicated with an effector that was part of the imagined movement (hand) and with a different effector (feet). In Experiment 2, we ruled out that the use of biological stimuli (left/right hands in Experiment 1) to indicate the effector causes sequential effects attributed to effector-specific inhibition, by using uppercase letters (R, L). As in Experiment 1, evidence for effector-specific inhibition was observed. In conclusion, we could reliably disentangle several inhibitory mechanisms in motor imagery.

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