Dynamic motor imagery mentally simulates uncommon real locomotion better than static motor imagery both in young adults and elderly

Augusto Fusco, Luigi Iasevoli, Marco Iosa, Maria Chiara Gallotta, Luca Padua, Livia Tucci, Gabriella Antonucci, Carlo Baldari, Laura Guidetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


A new form of Motor Imagery (MI), called dynamic Motor Imagery (dMI) has recently been proposed. The dMI adds to conventional static Motor Imagery (sMI) the presence of simultaneous actual movements partially replicating those mentally represented. In a previous research conducted on young participants, dMI showed to be temporally closer than sMI in replicating the real performance for some specific locomotor conditions. In this study, we evaluated if there is any influence of the ageing on dMI. Thirty healthy participants were enrolled: 15 young adults (27.1±3.8 y.o.) and 15 older adults (65.9±9.6y.o.). The performance time and the number of steps needed to either walk to a target (placed at 10m from participants) or to imagine walking to it, were assessed. Parameters were measured for sMI, dMI and real locomotion (RL) in three different locomotor conditions: forward walking (FW), backward walking (BW), and lateral walking (LW). Temporal performances of sMI and dMI did not differ between RL in the FW, even if significantly different to each other (p = 0.0002). No significant differences were found for dMI with respect to RL for LW (p = 0.140) and BW (p = 0.438), while sMI was significantly lower than RL in LW (p<0.001). The p-value of main effect of age on participants' temporal performances was p = 0.055. The interaction between age and other factors such as the type of locomotion (p = 0.358) or the motor condition (p = 0.614) or third level interaction (p = 0.349) were not statistically significant. Despite a slight slowdown in the performance of elderly compared to young participants, the temporal and spatial accuracy was better in dMI than sMI in both groups. Motor imagery processes may be strengthened by the feedback generated through dMI, and this effect appears to be unaffected by age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS One
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Motor Imagery
  • Personalized Medicine


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