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Incongruent imagery interferes with action initiation
Brain and Cognition (2010)
  • Richard Ramsey, University of Nottingham
  • Jennifer Cumming, University of Birmingham
  • Daniel Eastough
  • Martin G. Edwards, University of Birmingham

It has been suggested that representing an action through observation and imagery share neural processes with action execution. In support of this view, motor-priming research has shown that observing an action can influence action initiation. However, there is little motor-priming research showing that imagining an action can modulate action initiation. The current study examined whether action imagery could prime subsequent execution of a reach and grasp action. Across two motion analysis tracking experiments, 40 participants grasped an object following congruent or incongruent action imagery. In Experiment 1, movement initiation was faster following congruent compared to incongruent imagery, demonstrating that imagery can prime the initiation of grasping. In Experiment 2, incongruent imagery resulted in slower movement initiation compared to a no-imagery control. These data show that imagining a different action to that which is performed can interfere with action production. We propose that the most likely neural correlates of this interference effect are brain regions that code imagined and executed actions. Further, we outline a plausible mechanistic account of how priming in these brain regions through imagery could play a role in action cognition.

  • Imagery; Common coding; Premotor; Parietal; Priming; Action cognition
Publication Date
Citation Information
Richard Ramsey, Jennifer Cumming, Daniel Eastough and Martin G. Edwards. "Incongruent imagery interferes with action initiation" Brain and Cognition Vol. 74 Iss. 3 (2010)
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