The effect of alternate training of action observation and motor imagery on cognitive and skill performance

Taeho Kim1,2, Cornelia Frank1,2 and Thomas Schack1,2,3

1 Neurocognition and Action-Biomechanics Research Group, Bielefeld University, Germany
2 Cognitive Interaction Technology – Center of Excellence (CITEC), Bielefeld University, Germany
3 Research Institute for Cognition and Robotics (CoR-Lab), Bielefeld University, Germany

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of alternate action observation and motor imagery training on cognitive performance in working memory and skill performance. Forty-eight beginners with no experience in Taekwondo participated in the experiment. They were randomly assigned to one of four groups: action observation (AO) training group, motor imagery (MI) training group, alternate AO+MI training group (i.e., MI after AO), and a control group. Cognitive performance was measured before and after three days of training, and one day after completion (retention test). After retention test, all participants performed three blocks of Taekwondo roundhouse kick. Results showed that alternate AO+MI training overall was more effective in improving cognitive performance and skill performance after cognitive training than independent AO and MI training. Taken together, the findings suggest that alternate AO+MI training may be considered a more effective training method as compared to AO and MI training alone.

KEYWORDS: Cognitive training, motor memory, motor learning, skill acquisition, working memory