Mental Practice versus Physical Practice for Finger Opposition Skills in Children

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[Source:  Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport via Your Therapy Source]

opposingfingersResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport published research on the effects of mental practice (MP) and physical practice (PP) on a finger opposition task among 36, nine to ten years old, children. The children were randomly assigned to either a MP group, PP group or no practice (NP) group. The MP and PP groups participated in a single session of training with the dominant trained hand. The MP group was trained by mentally rehearsing the movements, the PP group was trained by executing the movements, and the NP group had no training. The performance of three groups was evaluated under identical conditions before training, after 5 min, and at 4 days, 7 days, and 28 days after training.

The results indicated the following:
1. both trained groups (MP and PP) showed statistically significant improvement in the trained sequence using the trained hand at all assessment points after the training
2. only MP participants were able to transfer the performance gains from the trained sequence to the untrained reverse sequence and from the trained hand to the untrained opposite hand.

The researchers concluded that children were able to learn the finger to thumb opposition sequence task through MP or PP with a similar level of performance. Although, MP allowed for the transfer of untrained reverse sequence performance gain and transfer to the opposite hand, suggesting that the internal representations developed by MP were effector-independent.

Reference: Sabrina Kyoko de Paula Asa, Mara Cristina Santos Melo and Maria Elisa Pimentel Piemonte. Effects of Mental and Physical Practice on a Finger Opposition Task Among Children. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. Volume 85, Issue 3, 2014, pages 308- 315

Published online: 20 Aug 2014. DOI: 10.1080/02701367.2014.931557

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